A Scots diving firm has been ordered to pay £290,000 in damages to the family of a dad who died during an expedition at Scapa Flow.
Lex Warner suffered internal injuries after falling on the deck of the MV Jean Elaine in August 2012 after he tripped over his flipper.
The 50-year-old, from Sutton Coldfield, near Birmingham, decided to continue with his planned dive but reportedly got into difficulty just minutes later while 289ft below the surface.
He rapidly tried to make it back up to the boat – with the help of fellow divers – but was declared dead after being airlifted to Stornoway hospital.
The experienced diver was found to have suffered damage to his small bowel mesentery and liver which caused massive internal bleeding.
The boat operator – Scapa Flow Charters – have been found at fault over the dad’s death by allowing divers to walk on the deck while wearing their fins.
Speaking on Friday, Lex’s widow Debbie, who brought the court action on behalf of their nine-year-old son Vincent, has welcomed the ruling.
She said: “It’s been a long, long road and today’s ruling means so much to us but it’s also something that can’t be properly expressed.
“We feel relieved, numb and happy all at the same time but also sad because at the end of the day we’re without Lex – this has been about seeking justice for him.
“We’re still trying to work out what today’s judgement actually means for the case going forward so I don’t want to say anything else just now.
“But we’d like to thank our legal team for fighting this case all the way and also our friends, family and the community who have supported us for nearly a decade.”
Brian Castle, partner at Digby Brown Solicitors who have been working on their behalf, added: “For nearly 10 years the Warner family has sought answers, justice and recognition for the loss of Lex so this judgement is a welcome one.
“They have endured significant legal challenges and I commend the dignity and strength they have consistently shown in seeking justice because we cannot forget that at its core, this legal case is about a family who have lost their husband and father and want to be allowed to move forward with their lives.
“While today’s ruling is undoubtedly welcome, proceedings are still ongoing so it would be inappropriate to say anything further at this time.”
In a written opinion from the Court of Session, Lord Sandison added: “I accordingly conclude that Mr Cuthbertson was guilty of fault and neglect … in that he failed to recognise that the system of dive preparation he had set up or allowed to develop permitted or even encouraged divers to walk on deck in fins, and that that was an inherently risky activity to the extent that consideration should have been given to putting in place mechanisms apt to eliminate it or at least bring it under close control.”
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