Cornwall speedboat deaths: Coroner call for training review

Nick Milligan holding Emily, with wife Victoria, son Kit and two other daughters Amber and Olivia Image copyright Vitty Robinson/PA
Image caption Nick Milligan and his eight-year-old daughter Emily, left, were killed while his wife Victoria and son Kit were seriously injured

A coroner is calling for a review of training for speedboat users following the death of a father and daughter.

Emily Milligan, eight, and her father Nick, 51, from London died in the accident near Padstow, Cornwall, on 5 May 2013.

Mr Milligan's wife Victoria and their other three children were all thrown into the water after the boat made a sharp turn, an inquest in Truro heard.

Mrs Milligan, who was at the wheel, was not wearing a safety "kill cord".

The cord would have cut the engine when she was thrown from the boat.

Boats 'more powerful'

The boat collided with Mr Milligan and his daughter as it spun out of control under full power in the Camel Estuary, the jury was told.

Mr Milligan's brother, Brig Mark Milligan, told the two-day inquest: "Powerboats are more powerful now than they used to be. Abroad it's compulsory to take certain courses whereas in the UK it's voluntary.

"They should consider making them compulsory."

The inquest previously heard Mr and Mrs Milligan wife had both carried out powerboat training before driving the 300hp machine.

After recording verdicts of accidental death, Cornwall Coroner Dr Emma Carlyon said she would write to the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) asking it to review whether training for leisure powerboats should be made compulsory in some cases.

Speaking immediately after the hearing, Brig Milligan said he hoped "lessons would be learned" from the incident.

Image copyright MAIB
Image caption The engine of the Milligans' boat Milly remained at full power after they were thrown into the water

The inquest heard the speedboat's manufacturer APV Marine had rejected a formal recommendation from the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) to review the design of its hull.

Capt Mike Evans from the MAIB told the hearing: "APV replied it was satisfied beyond doubt that its design is safe in all reasonable manoeuvres.

"The chief inspector said the manufacturer's reluctance to consider modifications is disappointing in view of the circumstances."

'Big mistake'

Sky TV executive Mr Milligan and his family had been staying at their holiday home in the area when the accident happened.

Mrs Milligan swam towards the harbour with her six-year-old son, Kit, both having suffered serious leg injuries. The two other children, Amber, 12, and Olivia, 11, suffered minor injuries.

Mrs Milligan admitted her "big mistake" was in not using the kill cord after she had taken over the helm of the boat, called Milly, from her husband, who she called Nicko.

The inquest heard that Mr Milligan had grabbed the wheel and increased the throttle.

Image caption A passer-by filmed the speedboat out of control in the Camel Estuary

She said: "The sea was flat and calm and I decided to drive Milly back to the mooring. I did not put the kill cord around my leg because it was only a short distance to the mooring.

"As I started to drive back to the mooring, the children all called out that they wanted to go around again.

"Nicko then said 'turn right, turn right'. We were not going very fast and I did not think there was enough room to turn. He then grabbed the wheel with his right hand and accelerated with his left hand."

She said the acceleration was not smooth and the boat jerked.

"I remember feeling like we had hit a wall and we all fell out," she said.

"Kit was screaming as I grabbed him and Nicko was telling us to stay together."

Post-mortem examinations found that Mr Milligan died from head injuries while his daughter had suffered fatal multiple injuries.

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