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‘Systemic failure’ in British airman’s death’

Royal Air Force Senior Aircraftman Scott Hughes

THE MOTHER of an RAF airman killed by a speedboat in Cyprus in 2010 has accused the UK Ministry of Defence of “catastrophically failing” to protect her son after a coroner blamed his death on a “systemic failure” of safety systems.

The family of Royal Air Force Senior Aircraftman Scott Hughes are now planning to sue the MoD over what they said was a “wholly avoidable catastrophe”.

Hughes, 20, from North Wales, died two days after the incident off the shore of Cyprus where he had been relaxing with other servicemen in 2010 following a tour of Afghanistan.

North Wales Coroner Nicola Jones yesterday recorded a narrative verdict after a four-day inquest into his death.

Hughes’ mother, Emma, said: “Scott was prepared to put his life on the line to defend his country and in return his employer, the Ministry of Defence, catastrophically failed to take care of him whilst he was undertaking duties on a decompression activity in Cyprus.

The inquest heard how Hughes had completed a six-month tour of frontline duty in Afghanistan in November 2010.

Together with 127 other members of his unit, he had arrived in Cyprus on the way home to undergo a mandatory period of post-deployment “decompression”, the inquest heard.

Hughes was taking part in water sports at the Military Training Wing Water Sports Centre in Episkopi, when he sustained serious head injuries after being hit by a speedboat.

Hughes had fallen from an inflatable donut and went “unnoticed” by the driver and observer, the inquest heard. The boat then went over Hughes, and when he was under the boat the driver engaged reverse, causing fatal injuries.

He died at Limassol General Hospital two days later on November 7, 2010.

Mark McGhee, one of the solicitor who represented the family at the inquest: “Unsurprisingly the coroner’s findings have confirmed what we and Scott’s family have believed for almost three years – that the tragic death of this fine young man was wholly avoidable.

“Such failures went to the root of the safety management system which should have been in operation at the time of Scott’s death. Following today’s verdict we will be vigorously pursuing a substantial civil claim against the Ministry of Defence.”

An MoD spokeswoman said what happened was a “tragic accident” and that the MoD has since made all the necessary changes to prevent, as far as possible, any recurrence of similar tragedies. (PA)

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