England

Medway girls' Belize school trip rape damages claim rejected

Map of Belize and capital city Belmopan

Two women who were raped as pupils during a school trip to Central America in 2005 have lost their High Court compensation bid.

They each claimed £100,000 in damages from their former school in Medway, Kent, and Hampshire firm Adventure Lifesigns.

Mr Justice Mackay said they were raped in a resort in Belize in August 2005.

The girls claimed not enough had been done to protect them but the judge said they were "continuously supervised".

The pair, who cannot be named and are now in their 20s, were accompanied by teachers and ex-military minders during their stay at the resort.

The court was told a local man, called Aaron, who "had no business to be in their cabana at all, let alone at midnight", initiated a game of spin the bottle before the rapes took place.

'Girls were groomed'

Mr Justice Mackay said he was later charged with the offences but the case was dismissed as the girls felt unable to give evidence at his trial.

They claimed Aaron's behaviour at a swimming pool on the afternoon of the incident should have put the expedition leaders, a teacher and two Adventure Lifesigns representatives, on notice that he was grooming them as potential victims.

But the judge said he was satisfied that comments had not been heard or reported to the leaders and the ethos of the expedition was to provide adult supervision from a discreet but reasonable distance.

He said: "This party was continuously supervised by three highly responsible and experienced adults.

"Short of posting a guard on the door of each cabana, or instituting some system of watch-keeping, there would have been no way of defeating Aaron's assault on these girls, which he and up to a point they were at pains to keep from the leaders.

"It would not be fair, just and reasonable to define the scope of their duties so as to require them to have taken those or any other precautions that night."

He added: "I find that the checks made were reasonable and proportionate, and that the leaders of this expedition were not given any reason to foresee this terrible event.

"The defendants did not breach their respective duties of care to these claimants, who were the victims of an unscrupulous, determined and skilful attacker."

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