Diving Tutor Convicted For Student Fatality

| General

On Burns Night 2023 on 25th January 2023 Leicester Magistrates Court convicted a tutor specialising in teaching people the activity of diving due to compelling evidence suggesting that he was criminally liable for causing the death of a learner diver for whom he was responsible for his welfare whilst in his care on a diving lesson where skills, knowledge and advice about the artform were being passed on. Due to the the incident the Magistrates Court handed down the instructor a sentence of fifty hours of work of the unrecompensed variety and a shade over three thousand pounds in costs.      

What Happened In The Case?

On the day the fatal incident was alleged to have taken place the learner diver was on a training run which was designed, managed and overseen by the qualified diving activity tutor. The dive itself was going ahead as planned and it was seemingly a case of nothing to see here. However, the tide appears to have turned on the diving instructor when the learner diver whom he had a duty to care for the health, safety and well being of the learner seemingly suddenly began experiencing technical difficulties with his breathing whilst under the water due to the diving tutor neglecting in his professional, legal and regulatory duties to:

  • ensuring that the leaner diver’s diving equipment used on the diving lesson was preserved and up to the required legal standard
  • verifying that the equipment used to facilitate the air flow for those under his tutelage was working correctly
  • neglecting in his professional duties to stay near to the learner diver
  • negating to hear or see the indications of technical problems in the equipment and
  • abandoning their professional, regulatory and legal responsibilities to have present at the time the diving practice run took place a qualified rescue diver.   

The evidence appeared to indicate that the diving tutor had acted in violation of the regulations regarding Decompression Procedures. This was because on the evidence he had fallen short of the required professional standards to keep within the largest depth requirements on subsequent diving runs. 

What Did The Health and Safety Executive Say?

When an incident of this nature occurs the industry regular, the Health and Safety Executive usually need to make the executive decision on whether to put the facts and circumstances of the case under the proverbial microscope. The did in fact opt for this course of action and when it did so it discovered that the diving tutor had neglected in its legal and regulatory responsibilities under section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 which puts such organisations under a duty to protect persons whom it does not employ and in a situation whereby there are chances of being impacted by its conduct. As a result of the admission plea the Magistrates Court siting in Leicester handed down a sanction of approximately fifty hours of work of the unpaid type.    

Lessons Learned?

All businesses in the jurisdiction should put this judgement under the proverbial microscope and seek to take extra precautions in relation to health and safety when interacting with up-and-coming divers by taking the following steps in adhering to the requirements of section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 by:

  • putting a qualified rescue diver in situe in the event of an emergency
  • not allowing learners to proceed if out of the agreed deep level
  • noticing if there are any warning signs of any issues and
  • reviewing the safety features on any equipment


#BlakeMorgan #LClyde&CoLLP #CapsticksLLP #Hempsons #KingsleyNapleyLLP #RadcliffesLeBrasseur #BatesWells #CMS #DACBeachcroftLLP #FieldFisher #HerbertSmithFreehills #Russell-CookeLLP #BlackfordsLLP #CharlesRussellSpeechlysLLP #KeoughLLP #MurdochsSolicitors #StepehensonsSolicItorsLLP


[SOURCE 1] HSE – Diving instructor sentenced after student dies in a training dive – 25th January 2023 - Diving instructor sentenced after student dies in a training dive | HSE Media Centre

[SOURCE 2] Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 

[SOURCE 3] Health and Safety Executive – Recreational diving projects - Diving at Work Regulations  - Recreational diving projects: Diving at Work Regulations 1997 Approved Code of Practice (hse.gov.uk) 

[SOURCE 4] HSE – Recreational diving projects – Diving at Work Regulations - Recreational diving projects: Diving at Work Regulations 1997 (hse.gov.uk)



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