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Sunday 22 January 2017

Deepcut soldier denies having sex with Cheryl James on the night before she died

Helen Williams

Published 25/02/2016 | 12:11

Pte Cheryl James Photo: PA
Pte Cheryl James Photo: PA

A soldier has denied having sex with an 18-year-old female private who was found shot in the head at Deepcut barracks.

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Private Ian Atkinson said he and Private Cheryl James had only ever "kissed - that was it" and this happened on just one occasion.

The inquest into Pte James's death in November 1995 has been told by fellow squaddie Mark Beards that Sergeant Andrew Gavaghan had ordered her to go into a room with Pte Atkinson to have sex the night before she died.

Describing it as a "drunken kiss", Pte Atkinson told Woking Coroner's Court: "We kissed - that was it. It never went any further. It was just a kiss. It was a week or two before the death of Cheryl.

"We had been down the Naafi, down the bar. We had a drink and all that but it never went any further."

Pte James was one of four recruits to die at the Army training camp in Surrey over a seven-year period.

Pte Atkinson said he was "shocked" when he heard about Mr Beards's allegations for the first time last year as preparations were being made for this inquest.

He told the court: "I do not know why he would do that or what he was thinking."

Asked by Nicholas Moss, for the Ministry of Defence, about the allegations, he said: "I could not believe it. I was shocked. I really did not know why he has done this. We kissed, that was all that happened. It never went any further and it never happened again."

Mr Moss asked: "What is your view about men who coerce women into sex?"

Pte Atkinson replied: "I do not like it."

Pte Atkinson said he and Mr Beards, who left the Army in 1996, "were not best friends by any means" and that he considered him to be someone who was "fairly new and just latched on".

Earlier Pte Atkinson told the court that he and Pte James had gone their separate ways because "there was nothing there" and that she "did not want anything else to happen".

He described Pte James as a "quiet girl, quite keen to get on".

He also said he had heard that Pte James was seeing someone from a different barracks and she had slept with another Deepcut soldier called Pte Paul Wilkinson.

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