Ex-instructor charged with Deepcut rape charged with male rape

Click to follow
The Independent Online

A former training instructor has been charged with raping a fellow soldier and indecently assaulting a second at the Army's Deepcut barracks in Surrey.

The allegations of assault against two men were made during the police's investigation into the deaths of four recruits from gunshot wounds at the barracks. But police said yesterday that the alleged sexual offences against soldiers aged 17 and 21 were not connected to the deaths.

Leslie Skinner, 45, a former lance corporal, of Lincolnshire, was charged on Monday with one count of male rape against the 17-year-old and five counts of indecent assault. The offences, which are alleged to have taken place between 1996 and 1997, all relate to two soldiers at the Princess Royal barracks at Deepcut.

At the time of the alleged attacks, Mr Skinner was serving with the Royal Logistics Corps, which has its headquarters at Deepcut, Surrey Police said. He left the Army one year after the alleged assault.

The inquiry into the allegations against the former soldier was run by the same police team investigating the deaths of the four recruits at the barracks between 1995 and 2002.

A spokesman for Surrey Police said: "These [allegations] have come about as a result of soldiers coming forward to us while we were investigating the Deepcut deaths, but we do not believe any of these allegations are connected with any of the deaths."

He said the decision to bring charges against the former soldier was taken after consultation between Surrey Police and the Crown Prosecution Service. Mr Skinner is due to appear before Guildford magistrates' court on 15 July.

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Defence confirmed Mr Skinner had left the Army in 1998 but would not comment further. "These allegations have just come to light," she said.

Meanwhile, details of the 13-month police inquiry into the four deaths at the barracks is due to be released to the coroner in Woking in the next few weeks. It is expected to conclude that the recruits killed themselves and that no one should face criminal charges.

In July 1995, Private Sean Benton, from Hastings, East Sussex, was found dead with five bullet wounds and a rifle by his side. Four months later Private Cheryl James, 18, from Llangollen, North Wales, was found dead, also from gunshot wounds. Private James Collinson, 17 from Perth, was found with a single shot to his head in March 2002. Private Geoff Gray, 17, from Hackney, east London, died in similar mysterious circumstances last September.

Police interviewed more than 600 people connected to the camp and Pte Collinson was exhumed for further scientific examination.

The Ministry of Defence has consistently maintained that all four committed suicide.

The families of the dead soldiers have refused to accept that all four committed suicide with their own rifles and have accused the Army of a cover-up. They have also hired a ballistics expert, Frank Swann, to investigate the circumstances of the deaths.

In May the families of two of the recruits held a silent protest over what they called an "insulting" visit by the Princess Royal, who was at Deepcut to mark the 10th anniversary of the Royal Logistics Corps and her role as its Colonel in Chief.