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Thursday, 12 December, 2002, 19:06 GMT
Diver unlawfully killed
Inquest graphic
A commercial diver who drowned in Canary Wharf was unlawfully killed, an inquest jury has ruled.

Gary Miller, 36, was helping to construct a bridge between two docks in the London wharf on 8 November, 2000, when diving supervisor, Bill Reeves, lost contact with him.

Mr Miller, of Grosvenor Drive, Hornchurch, Essex, alerted a standby diver to the fact that there was a tug-boat coming through but that was the last the crew heard of him.

After the verdict Coroner Dr Andrew Reid said he would ask the police and the Crown Prosecution Service to "look at the file".

If the mask had not been incorrectly assembled he would not have drowned and it would not have fallen apart

Dr John Bevan
But he stressed there was no guarantee of prosecution and suggested the case may revert to the Health and Safety Executive.

On Wednesday a specialist diving consultant, Dr John Bevan, told St Pancras Coroner's Court that he believed Mr Miller's mask had been incorrectly assembled.

He said that as the band holding his hood on came apart water leaked in.

Dr Bevan said: "I think from the evidence it appears Mr Miller spent what time he had trying to get an air supply."

'Let down'

Mr Reeves, who assembled the mask, had told the inquest he was not aware it had been incorrectly put together and Mr Miller had checked it himself.

But Dr Bevan said: "If the mask had not been incorrectly assembled he would not have drowned and it would not have fallen apart."

He also said that the suit Mr Miller had been wearing was "not ideal" as a left-hand crutch-strap was missing and another was taped on.

A statement from Mr Miller's family said: "Gary was let down by his diving team, who were in effect his life support system, which contributed to his death.

'Ascertain truth'

"He was then let down in death by the 'system' which is supposed to be there to protect workers.

"We cannot find words strong enough, which describe the additional pain and anguish that has been forced on our family on trying to ascertain the truth."

At the time of the incident Mr Miller had been working for specialist contractor Arkal Limited.


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11 Dec 02 | England
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