Drunkenness 'rife' at base where airman died

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The Independent Online
Drunkenness was 'on occasions rife' at a Royal Naval base in Norway where a serviceman died after drinking too much on his 30th birthday, the High Court was told yesterday.

Cheap drink was sold at the Bardufoss base to discourage men from spending time ashore and causing trouble. But drunkenness among off-duty personnel was not controlled and those who became intoxicated were not properly cared for, Geoffrey Nice QC said. Naval airman Terence Barrett died in January 1988. Mr Nice was appearing for his widow, Dawn Barrett, 32.

Mrs Barrett, of Yeovil, Somerset, is suing the Ministry of Defence for damages on behalf of herself and the couple's son Liam, six. The ministry denies liability for Mr Barrett's death and denies that it owed him a duty of care while off-duty.

Mr Nice told Judge Phelan that Mr Barrett drank so much that he lost consciousness. He suffocated in his own vomit.

He argued that the ministry breached its duty of care 'by allowing this uncontrolled regime to exist' and providing inadequate treatment.

The hearing continues today.