Inquest records open verdict over death in Bahamas

By Mary Stevens

An open verdict has been recorded at the inquest into the drowning of senior Daily Telegraph reporter David Graves, who died while diving on a press trip in the Bahamas a year ago.

But the coroner criticised a lapse in the duty of care that had been shown by the dive operators who organised the trip. He recommended that the court should consider a verdict of manslaughter on the grounds of gross negligence, but the jury voted fourthree in favour of the open verdict.

The Telegraph has supported his widow, Diana, in her attempt to find out why he died and it sent reporter David Sapsted to cover the year’s investigation into what happened.

Graves ran out of air during the dive and his body was found in 47ft of water. The buddy system, in which divers pair up to provide support for each other if something goes wrong, was not deployed during the dive. One of the other journalists on the trip, rather than the dive masters, noticed Graves was missing.

The inquiry was obstructed by administrative errors by the Bahamas judiciary and blunders by Small Hope Bay Lodge, where Graves died. The paper has spent tens of thousands of pounds in legal fees, in trying to retrieve lost evidence, and in paying for witnesses to travel to the inquest.

In Sapsted’s piece about the investigation, he wrote: “How well or badly that afternoon dive was supervised is, as the coroner says, ‘a matter for another court’. Birch and Hornby [lodge owner and instructor] are adamant that there was nothing wrong with the organisation and conduct of the dive. Except, of course, that David Graves died alone and unnoticed.”

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