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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 July 2006, 14:07 GMT 15:07 UK
Everest trip 'beset by problems'
Michael Matthews (left) with his friend Jamie Everett
Mr Matthews (left) began the climb with his friend Mr Everett
Three men facing manslaughter charges over the death on Mount Everest of a City trader will not face trial.

It began back in 1998 when Michael Matthews, a City trader, suggested to his father he would like to climb Everest, after he and his friend Jamie Everett saw the idea in a magazine.

After reading a brochure from Alpine Mountaineering Ltd, formerly Out There Trekking Limited, Mr Matthews paid $40,000 (22,000) to the company for a guided trip to climb the mountain.

The following March, after completing several acclimatisation climbs, the two friends arrived in Nepal to begin the expedition.

They were joined by Jonathan Tinker, the expedition leader, Nick Kekus, the senior guide and Michael Smith and Martin Doyle, who were the European guides.

But the journey had problems from the start, according to Mr Matthews's father, David, who brought a private prosecution against Alpine Mountaineering and three of its staff, alleging their negligence led to the death of his son.

The expedition was "too big and further it was disorganised", the prosecution said.

Altitude sickness

"No briefings at any time were given about what to do if an expedition member was in crisis, lost or struggling," the prosecution added.

Ten days after reaching the base camp, Mr Everett had altitude sickness and returned home.

The rest of the team continued, but Mr Tinker also fell ill and returned to the UK, and Mr Kekus took over the leadership of the expedition.

Prior to making their second summit attempt, there were concerns about the oxygen systems, which were supplied by Henry Todd.

Oxygen problems

The prosecution said Mr Matthews would not have died if the expedition was called off because of the oxygen problems.

The group continued anyway, and they reached the summit on 13 May, making Mr Matthews, aged 22, the youngest Briton ever to reach the mountain's peak.

He and his guide, Mr Smith, then began the descent together.

But on the way down, the two companions lost contact, after Mr Smith said he went to free some fixed ropes which he believed were becoming stuck in the snow.

It is assumed Mr Matthews fell to his death, but as his body was never recovered, no-one really knows exactly how he died.

Judge Geoffrey Rivlin decided the charges against Mr Tinker, of York, Mr Todd, of Kathmandu, Nepal, and Mr Smith, of Verbier, Switzerland, should be dismissed.

We regret this judgement but we do of course accept what the judge has said
David Matthews
Father of Michael Matthews
Speaking outside London's Southwark Crown Court, David Matthews said he was "shell shocked" following the ruling.

He told the Central News agency: "We regret this judgement but we do of course accept what the judge has said.

"We now want to take a bit of time to reflect before deciding what to do."

Everest death charges dismissed
20 Jul 06 |  London

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