Mother 'treated like flotsam' by Sunsail after daughter's death

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Media captionMother 'treated like flotsam' after daughter's death

A mother who lost her daughter in a boating accident in 2003 has said the holiday firm treated her "like flotsam" during a 13-year battle for justice.

Laura Morgan, 11, of Nottinghamshire, died at a Sunsail resort when she was trapped under a catamaran.

A UK court awarded her mother Lynne an undisclosed compensation sum last week, but she said Sunsail did not show "an ounce of compassion".

Sunsail said safety was a priority and it regretted the "protracted process".

A Greek court found three employees of UK-based Sunsail guilty of causing Laura's death by negligence in 2006.

One was cleared on appeal. The two others were given suspended prison terms after another hearing in 2007. Their appeals were rejected in 2010.

Image copyright Lynne Morgan
Image caption Laura Morgan died in a sailing accident at a resort in Greece in 2003 when she became trapped under a catamaran

Mrs Morgan, 61, of Woodborough, said a total of 13 court hearings had been held into her daughter's death, but Sunsail had shown "complete contempt for Laura, myself and my family".

"It has been absolutely horrific because for 13 years I have had to repeatedly go over and over all the details of how my beautiful daughter died.

"Grief is a very powerful emotion and I became more and more determined to fight for the truth to come out and for justice to be served in a moral as well as judicial sense.

"Laura's death never should have happened. Sunsail were operating in a very unprofessional, laissez-faire manner out in Greece."

Image caption Lynne Morgan said she was "hugely relieved" the ordeal was finally over

The civil case for damages was launched in Greece in 2011 and was resolved last week, Mrs Morgan said.

Sunsail said in a statement, it operated within "the stringent safety guidelines" set out by the Royal Yachting Association and safety was "an absolute priority".

"We will always deeply regret the distress that this protracted process has undoubtedly caused for Laura's family and we are aware that this matter has taken a number of years to reach resolution," the statement said.

Image copyright Lynne Morgan
Image caption Laura, who was 11, got trapped in a harness underneath the catamaran

It added that the claim for compensation was originally pursued by the family through the Greek courts, and that Sunsail had "always acted in accordance with any orders received" from the courts.

A week-long inquest in Nottingham in 2012 heard that Laura's catamaran was caught by the wind and turned over on its side at a resort in Vounaki, near Paleros.

She became trapped underneath when her trapeze harness - which allows sailors to lean out to help steer the boat - was tangled in the rigging, the inquest heard.

Mrs Morgan said: "I have lost one of the most precious things in my life... and it should never have happened.

"Sunsail has treated me like a piece of flotsam in all of this with no regard to my emotions and my feelings."

Timeline of events

  • July 2003: Laura is pronounced dead in Greece
  • December 2004: Five Sunsail employees are charged with manslaughter through negligence
  • October 2005: The trial commences in Lefkada
  • March 2006: Three defendants are found guilty and handed 18-month suspended sentences - the trio then launch an appeal against their convictions
  • April 2007: Two of the sentences are upheld with their terms reduced to 15 months, while another is found not guilty. An immediate appeal to the Supreme Court is launched
  • March 2008: Laura's family issue a claim against Sunsail
  • April 2008: Supreme Court judges in Athens order a retrial
  • December 2008: The convictions of the two Sunsail staff are upheld for a third time - a further appeal is made to the Supreme Court
  • February 2010: The Supreme Court rejects the appeal
  • September 2011: The judgment over the family's claim is published and the family are awarded €240,000 - Sunsail immediately appeals the decision
  • January 2012: An inquest into Laura's death is held
  • June 2013: Sunsail's claim appeal is rejected and it applies for a stay of execution of the judgement and appeals to the Supreme Court. Sunsail does not pay compensation.
  • May 2014: The Supreme Court decides to suspend one half of the amount pending the outcome of the court hearing but Sunsail "still refuses" to pay for the other half
  • November 2014: Sunsail's lawyers confirm the firm will pay the amounts owed - but 51 days later it does not pay
  • March 2016: The Supreme Court rejects Sunsail's appeal and orders it to pay costs
  • July 2016: The family's lawyers issue a further letter to Sunsail giving it three days to pay
  • August 2016: A UK court awards Laura's mother Lynne an undisclosed compensation sum

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