Charlotte Shaw mother loses pupil death claim
- 28 June 2012
- From the section Devon
The mother of a 14-year-old girl swept to death in a swollen river on Dartmoor has failed in her £350,000 damages bid against her daughter's school.
Charlotte Shaw's mother, Jennifer Wilkin-Shaw, blamed her private school at London's High Court.
Charlotte, a pupil at Edgehill College (now Kingsley School) in Bideford, Devon, fell into the Walla Brook on 4 March 2007 and died the next day.
She was one of a team of 11 from the school training for the Ten Tors trek.
Mrs Wilkin-Shaw said a language teacher supervising the teenagers was not up to the job.
However, Judge Mr Justice Owen cleared teacher Christopher Fuller and the school of all blame - ruling instead that responsibility lay with scout master Trevor Wills, who tried to help the exhausted youngsters.
The judge said Mr Fuller had done the right thing when he told the pupil who led the group, Charlotte Kennedy, not to attempt a crossing of Walla Brook.
That instruction, given over a mobile phone, was over-ruled by Mr Wills, who had met the children at Watern Tor.
Mr Wills, who has since died, directed the girls across the brook, with fatal consequences.
The judge said: "This tragic accident was the consequence of the well meant, but ill-advised, intervention of Mr Wills."
Charles Hattersley, from Mrs Wilkin-Shaw's solicitors, Ashfords, said: "We are disappointed with the result and we are very seriously looking at making an appeal."
Andy Waters, head teacher of Kingsley School, welcomed the judgement.
He said: "The school has received the court's judgement and, as has been the case since the tragic death of Charlotte Shaw, our first thoughts are with her family and friends and we continue to extend them our deepest sympathy."
Charlotte was on the moor preparing for the annual Ten Tors event challenge, organised by the Army.
In 2010, an inquest into her death heard she was swept away after slipping and falling into the brook as she tried to throw a friend's rucksack to the other side.
The coroner recorded a narrative verdict, calling for all adults leading Ten Tors teams to be properly qualified.