Manager in charge when young girl died appeals successfully against prison sentence

In July 2003, 11-year-old Laura Morgan died while on holiday at Sunsail’s Vounaki Club, Greece, when she became trapped under a catamaran and drowned. Five Sunsail employees were subsequently charged with causing death through negligence, and Watersports Manager Rebecca Morgan,(no relation) who was in charge of the club at the time of Laura’s death, was given an 18-month sentence.

Following an appeal hearing which ended yesterday, Monday 23 April, in Patras, Greece, Rebecca Morgan’s sentence was repealed. The case is now set to go to the Greek Supreme Court.

RYA Training Manager James Stevens said that the RYA welcomed the repeal: ‘The Sunsail Vounaki Club is an RYA recognised training centre and as such was regularly inspected and found to comply with RYA requirements. Following Laura Morgan’s tragic death we made a special inspection of the club’s equipment, safety and tuition standards. We were satisfied that the club did fully comply with RYA requirements. We are pleased therefore, that in repealing Ms Morgan’s sentence the Greek court has recognised that the watersports centre and staff were following stringent safety requirements.’

The revisions included new guidelines relating to total inversions. Masthead floats can now be considered if appropriate to prevent inversion; safety boat crews now right an inverted boat immediately, rather than try to disentangle the crew; and safety boats must carry a knife.

RYA Training Manager James Stevens said: ‘We continue to work closely with clubs and training centres such as Sunsail in order to minimise the possibility of another tragedy such as this. This is a very unfortunate case, sailing is a very safe sport and fortunately this type of accident is very rare. Our thoughts are with Laura’s family.’