PRIVATE Cheryl James shot herself at Deepcut barracks, a coroner has ruled.

Brian Barker QC told the inquest at Woking Coroner's Court there was no evidence that the 18-year-old Llangollen soldier was unlawfully killed while she was on guard duty in the Surrey base in 1995.

Instead, Mr Barker was satisfied that Ms James died as a result of a "self-inflicted" shot, as soot of gunshot residue was found on her hand and face.

He said: "I find that Ms James' left hand was in contact with the rifle muzzle when the fatal shot was fired."

"There was soot on the face and hand showing there was a contact or near contact shot."

Delivering his verdict following a three-month inquest into her death, he said: "The conclusion is self infliction. This was an intentional discharge by Ms James."

Her family delivered a statement outside the Coroner's Court in Woking and said they were "deeply saddened and surprised" by the verdict.

"Deepcut was a toxic and horrible environment for a young woman and we have no doubt, that this would've had a terrible impact on those that were required to live there", they added.

Private James, 18, was found dead with a gunshot wound to the head in 1995 - one of four recruits to die at the Surrey barracks in seven years.

The Army insists all the deaths were suicide but the soldiers' families had fiercely disputed the claim.