Soldier found hanged at barracks with close links to base under investigation

By Matthew Beard
Sunday 05 January 2014 02:43
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The Ministry of Defence and police launched an investigation yesterday into the death of a female soldier found hanging in her barracks. Private Alison Croft, aged 22, a chef, was discovered early on Saturday hanging from a wardrobe door at Dalton barracks in Abingdon, Oxfordshire.

The barracks has close links with Deepcut in Surrey, where four disputed deaths in seven years have prompted an investigation into an alleged culture of bullying, sexual harassment and violence. Pte Croft trained at the barracks.

The MoD's Special Investigation Branch will look into claims that the woman was bullied by fellow soldiers. Thames Valley Police said they were investigating but not treating the death as suspicious. An inquest is to be opened.

The Deepcut barracks has been overshadowed by claims the Army is trying to cover up the cause of death of four soldiers in less than a decade.

The Army claims the four young soldiers committed suicide, but in two cases the coroner recorded an open verdict. Parents of the soldiers protested, resulting in police reopening inquiries into all four deaths. Campaigners claimed a significant victory last week when police agreed to exhume the body of James Collinson, a 17-year-old from Perth, Scotland, who died from a gunshot wound in March.

Pte Collinson's body will have a second post-mortem examination at the request of his parents. Their son died a few weeks after an inquest into the death of Pte Geoff Gray, also 17, who died of a gunshot wound while on guard duty outside the officers' mess a year ago.

Police are also investigating the deaths of Pte Sean Benton, 20, who was found with five gunshots in the chest on July 1995. A coroner ruled that he had committed suicide. Later that year, Pte Cheryl James, 18, died from a single bullet to the head. A coroner recorded an open verdict.

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