Soldier accused of being responsible for death of Scots recruit at Deepcut
A SOLDIER yesterday denied pulling the trigger that left a young Scots recruit shot dead on guard duty at the notorious Deepcut barracks.
Private James Collinson, 17, from Perth, died from a single bullet to the head after borrowing a gun to patrol the perimeter fence.
But at an inquest into his death yesterday a colleague, Pte Stacy McGrath, said he had neither pulled the trigger nor lied to cover up for himself or anyone else.
Answering questions from John Cooper, representing the Collinson family, Pte McGrath said it was "absolutely not true" that he was involved in causing Pte Collinson's death.
Asked by Mr Cooper about his movements in the minutes prior to the fatal shooting, Pte McGrath denied lying about his whereabouts.
The jury heard how Pte Collinson had suggested during a conversation that he would like to have sex with some of the women at a wedding party in the officer's mess.
Pte McGrath told the inquest he left to make a phone call to his girlfriend, and he had neither heard nor seen anything after that. He had earlier told the hearing that he had not seen another soldier lend a loaded rifle to Pte Collinson before he went off for a smoke.
But he did say he had told the other private on duty with them that he should not have lent his loaded gun to Pte Collinson after swapping roles with him, against regulations. Pte Collinson, 17, was too young to be allowed to carry a weapon with live ammunition.
Mr Cooper claimed that in fact that a conversation occurred while Pte McGrath was on the phone, and he would have seen the handing over of the rifle.
He asked Pte McGrath: "Were you involved in causing the death of Private Collinson?"
And he replied: "Absolutely not, Sir."
Then he asked: "Did you pull the trigger?"
The coroner, Mr Michael Burgess sitting at Epsom magistrates court in Surrey told Pte McGrath: "You don't need to answer that question.
But Pte McGrath replied: "I will answer the question. I did not pull the trigger."
Mr Cooper then said: "Are you aware that someone else may have forced Private Collinson to pull the trigger?"
And he replied: "No, I don't believe that."
He was then asked if he was trying to avoid responsibility by lying and replied: "Certainly not. No."
Mr Cooper pressed on: "You knew full well where his body was, didn't you, because you were responsible for his death weren't you?"
But Pte McGrath did not reply. He also denied to the jury that both he and Pte Donnelly were with the body together for several minutes before other people arrived.
Earlier in his evidence he described how they felt when they discovered Pte Collinson's body.
Pte Donnelly, who had the torch, and gone off and returned after a couple of minutes, saying that he had found Pte Collinson's body. Pte McGrath said: "All I can remember, I was in shock, he was running back very quickly, when you are running with a torch, it kind of flickers everywhere, I could see he had the torch, he had found him.
The inquest continues
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