Parents blame Army for daughter's 'murder'

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The Independent Online

The parents of a teenage cadet who drowned in a boating accident after instructors had failed to follow basic safety procedures, yesterday said they were "disgusted" at the findings of an official inquiry into her death and accused the Army of murder.

The fatal accident inquiry into the death of 14-year-old Kaylee McIntosh found that basic precautions, including equipping the girl with a proper fitting life jacket, had not been taken. It also revealed that, because a headcount had not been taken, Kaylee was left stranded under her capsized boat for 90 minutes before anyone realised she was missing. An adult instructor who knew she was there did not return to help her or tell anyone the girl was trapped.

The report says changes in procedure by the Army Cadet Force had been or would be made. But the girl's parents, Lesley and Derek McIntosh said that it had not produced the "tough recommendations" they had hoped for.

Mrs McIntosh said: "The Army murdered our Kaylee. It is as plain and simple as that. Kaylee didn't die because of some silly mistake. She died because of a horrific catalogue of reckless and irresponsible conduct by those in charge. We believe that amounts to criminal conduct and there have to be criminal prosecutions against those responsible."

Kaylee died after she was pinned under the hull of an upturned boat on Loch Carnan, South Uist, in the Outer Hebrides, in August 2007.

She was one of 34 cadets taking part in the three-boat exercise when her vessel capsized due to a combination of choppy waters and the fact that her boat was overloaded, with 12 people on board rather than the recommended 10. When the boat capsized two other cadets and an adult instructor, sergeant Vicky Lorimer, were also trapped underneath the hull, but managed to escape. Sgt Lorimer, who was described in the report as being in "considerable distress" told Kaylee that she would "get back and get her" but never returned. She also neglected to tell anyone else that the girl was still under the boat.

Meanwhile Kaylee's lifejacket, which was not approved for children, had inflated while under the boat, making it impossible for her to escape.

As she waited for help under the boat, the exercise leader Major George McCallum climbed on to the upturned vessel and, rather than take a headcount, simply shouted "Is everyone okay?" unaware that Kaylee was still trapped beneath him. Mrs McIntosh said that she "still had nightmares" about this particular detail.

The report, written by Sheriff Alasdair MacFadyen, said that the girl's death could have been prevented if a number of precautions were taken, not least the checking of a weather forecast which would have shown that the conditions were too severe for the boat. Major McCallum admitted that the planning for the event was "exceptionally bad".