Drownings at Camber Sands – families still waiting for answers to vital questions

Friday 14 July 2017

In July 2016 Gustavo Da Silva and Mohit Dupar were drowned at Camber Sands beach. On 24 August 2016 Kenugen and Kobikanthan Sathiyanathan, Nitharsan Ravi, Inthusan Sriskantharasa and Gurusanth Srithavarajah were also drowned at Camber Sands.   Patrick Roche of Garden Court Chambers represented the victims' families at the inquest that concluded on 30 June 2017.

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The East Sussex Coroner Alan Craze found that all seven had died of misadventure. He also found that the RNLI had recommended the introduction of lifeguards in 2013 and that there were no lifeguards in 2016. One woman drowned in 2012. Another died in 2015. Rother did not deploy lifeguards until after the deaths in August 2016.

At a subsequent press conference with the families, Patrick Roche said:

“The evidence of the officers from Rother raised more questions than it answered. The families are still waiting for answers to vital questions about why Rother failed to deploy lifeguards earlier.”

Patrick said that the families wanted answers to a number of questions. These included the following:

  1. Who at Rother took the decision to reject the RNLI recommendations in 2013? Neither the Coastal Officer nor the Chief Executive who gave evidence accepted responsibility.
  2. Why was the decision taken not to deploy lifeguards?
  3. Did Rother decide not to deploy lifeguards because the Coastal Officer suggested that the RNLI report had “tweaked up” their risk assessment to get a foothold on the South Coast?
  4. Why did Rother fail to deploy lifeguards after further deaths in 2015 and July 2016?
  5. Why did Rother put out a press release after the deaths in 2016 wrongly claiming the RNLI had not recommended lifeguards?
  6. Why did Rother suggest that problems on the beach were confined to people with low swimming ability when we now know that all 7 who died could swim?
  7. Why did Rother consistently focus on the race of its victims rather than protecting all those who use its beaches?
  8. Will Rother now apologise to the families of all those who died in 2016?

At the press conference family members expressed their anger and distress at Rother’s failures and the way in which they had sought to shift the blame onto the victims.

The families are are considering what further action can be taken to hold Rother to account for the deaths of their loved ones.'

Patrick Roche of Garden Court Chambers and Philip Dayle of Number 5 Chambers were instructed by Marcia Willis Stewart of Birnberg Peirce.

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