British Airways 'abuse' pilot Simon Wood 'took his own life'

Simon Wood Image copyright PA
Image caption Simon Wood was found dead after being charged with sexually abusing children

A British Airways pilot, accused of abusing children in Africa and the UK, took his own life, a coroner has ruled.

Simon Wood, 54, from Potters Bar in Hertfordshire, was hit by a train near the town's station, 11 days before he was due to appear in a UK court.

He was also accused of sexually assaulting children in Africa while doing charity work for the airline.

BA is to be sued for damages by 16 alleged victims, who say the airline was responsible.

Mr Wood, who died on 18 August last year, had been charged with one count of indecent assault of a girl under 16, two counts of making indecent photographs of a child and one count of possessing indecent images of a child.

He had been due to appear at Southwark Crown Court on 29 August.

'Showered with gifts'

In Africa, he allegedly molested girls between the ages of five and 13 in schools and orphanages in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania between 2003 and 2013, law firm Leigh Day said.

Lawyers claim the airline is responsible because the alleged victims were assaulted by Mr Wood while he was on stopovers.

A mother of two of the alleged victims, aged nine and 16, said Mr Wood took them all to the Intercontinental Hotel in Nairobi during stopovers in Kenya and showered her children with gifts.

The woman said he would bathe her children and others and take them out.

"We had no idea he would have done that to children....the children loved him so very much," she said.

"I was very angry because I couldn't believe someone who I knew as a friend, as family, would do that.

"Afterwards, one daughter felt like no-one cared for her, her older sister tried to commit suicide."

British Airways has said it was "shocked and horrified" to hear of the allegations.

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