Birmingham & Black Country

Birmingham drowned soldier family settle MoD claim for £500k

Jamie Lee Sawyer Image copyright PA
Image caption Private Sawyer was a Royal Logistic Corps chef serving with 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment

The family of a soldier who died during a British Army-led kayak training exercise have settled a claim against the Ministry of Defence for £535,000.

Jamie Lee Sawyer, 20, from Birmingham, was swamped by waves and drowned off the coast of Cyprus on 12 March 2015.

A failure to take account of high winds contributed to his death, a coroner ruled in 2017.

Judge Mr Justice Stewart said at the High Court that the MoD now admitted liability over the death.

Private's Sawyer's mother, Tracey Sawyer, brought legal action against the MoD over the death of her son, who was deployed to Cyprus as part of a United Nations peace-keeping operation.

'Knocked unconscious'

Mr Justice Stewart said about 40 minutes after the trip began the weather and the state of the sea changed suddenly near sheer sandy cliffs, known as Cape Greco.

He told a hearing in London on Tuesday there were "very strong winds and extremely large waves making progress difficult and some of the kayakers were pushed inshore".

Mr Justice Stewart explained that Pte Sawyer, a Royal Logistic Corps chef, fell behind the rest of the group.

Maritime police threw Pte Sawyer a rescue line "but, as he was trying to grab it, a wave knocked him unconscious", the judge said.

Pte Sawyer was rescued from the water and taken to hospital, but "sadly he was pronounced dead on arrival", he added.

Birmingham and Solihull Coroner Louise Hunt gave a narrative verdict at Pte Sawyer's inquest and said there was a "failure to adequately assess the weather forecast before the event began."

She also cited a failure to ensure thunder storms warnings were provided to the regimental adventure training team.

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