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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 January, 2004, 20:26 GMT
Diving club members banned
Jemma Stevens
Jemma Stevens failed to surface in a wreck dive
Two senior members of a diving club have been struck off by the Sub Aqua Association following a damning report into the death of a Devon teenager.

Jemma Stevens, 19, from Honiton, was with the Lyme Bay Diving Club when she drowned during a diving expedition off Lyme Regis in Dorset last April.

The Association has banned Lyme Bay Diving Club chairman Les Cottrell and diving officer Robin Smith from holding office.

The Association report said a number of safety procedures which could have saved Jemma's life were not followed.

An inquest had previously heard a number of safety rules were broken and recorded an open verdict.

These two members are no longer allowed to be in our organisation
Chris Ledgard, Sub Aqua Association
The waters were too deep and too cold for a diver of Jemma's experience.

She was also using equipment she was not properly trained in and the group went down in a three, rather than in pairs.

Jemma's father, Justin, said lax safety procedures were to blame for his daughter's death, and the accident report by the Association backed him up, laying the blame on Mr Cottrell and Mr Smith.

"Diving is a dangerous sport, but it can be made safe," said Mr Stevens.

"If the rules are followed, there are a lot of very good diving clubs and if Jemma had belonged to another diving club which followed the rules to the letter, she would be alive today."

Follow lead

While the report means Mr Cottrell and Mr Smith can no longer work under the banner of the Sub Aqua Association, it does not mean they are prevented from organising diving trips under the banner of other regulators.

That seems to be the plan, but Mr Cottrell was said not to be at home in east Devon on Tuesday and could not be contacted.

The Sub Aqua Association hopes other bodies will follow its lead.

Chris Ledgard, from the Association, said: "We have passed on information regarding this incident, as we do with all incidents, to all the other organisations in the UK.

Safety issue

"It is for them to consider how they will approach it in the future.

"We are very clear. These two members are no longer allowed to be in our organisation.

"We have undertaken that as a result of this investigation and considering safety as an issue."

Mr Stevens is now waiting to see if there is enough evidence to bring a private prosecution.




SEE ALSO:
Father's anger at dive club
23 Dec 03  |  Devon
Mystery body is missing diver
15 May 03  |  Hampshire/Dorset
Mystery diver's body recovered
13 May 03  |  Hampshire/Dorset
Body could be missing diver
12 May 03  |  Hampshire/Dorset
No sign of missing diver
14 Apr 03  |  Hampshire/Dorset


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