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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 March 2006, 20:10 GMT
Trio guilty after girl's drowning
Laura Morgan
Laura had been sailing the catamaran with two friends
A Greek court has convicted three holiday firm staff of negligence after a Nottinghamshire girl drowned.

Laura Morgan, 11, of Woodborough, died on 31 July 2003 in Paleros when the catamaran she was sailing capsized and trapped her underneath.

Five employees of Sunsail - which organised the holiday - faced charges at the Court of Misdemeanours, in Lefkada, near Paleros.

Two other staff were found not guilty in the trial on Tuesday.

Hotel manager William James Hutton, 31, of Dorridge, Solihull, water sports manager Rebecca Jane Morgan, 30, of Porchester, near Fareham, and assistant manager Kevin Michael Jones, 25, of Chickerell, Weymouth, were all found guilty.

When the boat capsized completely, she was dragged under
Lynne Morgan

They were given 18-month jail sentences suspended for three years.

In a statement, Sunsail said it would appeal against the decision.

Two other Sunsail employees, safety boat staff Benjamin Annetts, 39, of Ivybridge, Devon, and Colin Scott Bradley, 28, of Crieff, Perthshire, were found not guilty of the same charge.

Laura and two friends had been sailing a Hobie catamaran as part of the activities laid on for holidaymakers.

But when it capsized safety guards could not free her trapeze harness that had trapped her underneath the boat.

Boat capsized

Laura's mother Lynne Morgan, 51, told the court: "[Laura] could not disentangle herself from the harness.

"When the boat capsized completely, she was dragged under."

Safety boat employee Benjamin Annetts told the court he tried in vain to free Laura before radioing for help and diving back under the water.

Lynne Morgan
Lynne Morgan travelled to Greece to give evidence

Laura's death sparked a review of safety measures in the yachting world.

Instructors are now advised to carry a sharp knife on board so they can cut free someone trapped by ropes.

Floats on masts are advised in some situations to stop a boat "inverting", or turning upside down.

Such a float could have saved Laura's life, said Mrs Morgan.

The three Sunsail employees failed to do enough to ensure Laura and her friends were safe on the water, the Court of Misdemeanours ruled.

Hutton told the court he had briefed his staff in accordance with the guidelines of the Royal Yachting Association, the national sailing body.

Morgan was in charge of making sure the safety measures were carried out on the beach, but she was not at work on the afternoon of Laura's death and the task was left to her assistant Jones.

Between them, said Judge John Papaioannidis, not enough care had been taken to ensure the three girls were supervised by an adult.

Greek regulations say under-16s must be with a grown-up when they sail.

But the court heard their only supervision on the water were two safety boats, which were overseeing around 25 other vessels at the time.

Mrs Morgan, a marketing consultant, was enjoying a holiday with Laura and her other daughter Sarah, now aged 19, after the break-up of her marriage.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Find out more about Laura Morgan's story



SEE ALSO:
Grieving mother waits for justice
13 Mar 06 |  Nottinghamshire
School will honour drowned pupil
13 Sep 05 |  Nottinghamshire
Family mourns drowning victim
04 Aug 03 |  Nottinghamshire


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