Teachers Found Not Guilty Over Death of Girl on French School Trip
Handsam School Trips Advisor
Three teachers from the UK have been found not guilty of the equivalent of manslaughter by gross negligence after the death of a 12-year-old pupil on a French school trip.
Jessica Lawson, who was a pupil at Wolfreton School in Willerby, was on a school trip when she died due to a pontoon capsizing in a lake near Limoges in southern France in July 2015.
In October, at a trial held at the Palais de Justice in the French town, Tulle, the three teachers (Steven Layne, Chantelle Lewis and Daisy Stathers) were cleared of all wrongdoing. However, some argued they deserved three years in jail for lack of vigilance. The local authority and the lake’s lifeguard at the time, Leo Lemaire, were also found not guilty, though the prosecutor argued the local authority should be fined €45,000.
The trial heard how, at the time of the incident, Lewis and Stathers started to panic after realising Jessica was missing. Layne said he saw no signs of distress from the lifeguard after the pontoon had capsized. According to the prosecutor, Myriam Soria, none of the teachers could see where Jessica was during the swim owing to a lack of surveillance. She said the pupil’s swimming should have been monitored “with vigilance.”
Florian Godest Le Gall, a legal representative for Lewis, said the teachers had reacted in the correct way and that an individual pupil cannot be supervised “every microsecond”.
Anis Harabi, who represented Layne, said the accident had no “culprits” and that his client should not have been expected to have done more when the teachers thought the swimming zone was safe due to the lifeguarded supervising there.
After Jessica’s death, Dave McCready, Wolfreton School’s headteacher, said her death was a “terrible tragedy” and a “dreadful shock to the whole school community”.
Read more of this story on handsamschooltripsadvisor.org.uk.