Family of plane crash victim lose compensation appeal

Family of plane crash victim lose compensation appeal

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Photo: © Pat Flynn 2010
Hong Cassley holding a photo of her late husband James at his funeral – Photo: © Pat Flynn 2010

The family of an Irishman killed when his plane crashed in a remote African jungle in 2010 have lost their bid for compensation from the victim’s employers.

Antrim-born James Cassley (30), who grew up in Quin, Co Clare, died in the crash on June 19th 2010 along with 10 others including the entire board of directors of Australian mining company Sundance Resources Ltd, the second defendant in the case.

Mr Cassley worked as an investment banker for London based GMP Securities Europe and was travelling on the flight with executives from Sundance Resources Ltd who were exploring mining sites in the Republic of Congo.

Sundance Resources had chartered a CASA C-212-100 Aviocar plane from Aero-Service, a Congolese charter flight company.

The flight was travelling from Yaounde in Cameroon to Yangadou in the Republic of Congo when, at about 9:14am on June 19th 2010, the plane crashed into a hillside in a remote area of dense jungle.

Following a massive search, the airplane was located two days later in mountaineous terrain covered by rain forest near Avima (Congo) close to the border with Gabon. All eleven bodies were recovered from the site.

Mr Cassley’s remains were repatriated to Ireland the following month and buried in Carnlough near Ballymena, Co. Antrim following funeral mass in Co Clare. He is survived by his parents Hector and Mona and his widow Hong.

Photo: © Pat Flynn 2010
Photo: © Pat Flynn 2010

Mr Cassley’s wife and parents had sued GMP and Sundance Resources Ltd. claiming they failed to ensure his safety. 

In London’s High Court’s of Justice last year, Mr Justice Coulson rejected both claims saying the companies weren’t at fault.

Mr Cassley’s widow and parents took their fight to the Court of Appeal however their case has been thrown out.

Mr Justice Baker said that High Court judge Mr Justice Coulson had found that the cause of the horror crash was “pilot error”.

The original plan was to use a charter flight company, but in the days before it was due to take place, the mining company changed to another provider.

“The employer did not know and had no reasonable way of knowing that the mining company had changed carriers,” Mr Justice Baker said.

“Mr Justice Coulson’s findings were plainly based on a meticulous examination of the evidence, and within the ambit of his discretion.” the Judge added.

Stewarts Law in London led the case on behalf of the family. A spokeswoman for the firm told the Clare Herald: “We are not able to comment at this time”.

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Chief Reporter Pat Flynn has worked as a journalist for almost 30 years. His career began during the late 1980s when, like many aspiring radio presenters of the time, he worked for local pirate radio stations in Clare and Limerick. Pat joined Clare FM in 1990 where he worked as researcher initially and later presented several different programmes including the station's flagship current affairs programme. He was also the station's News Editor and Deputy Controller of Programmes. Despite leaving in 2003 to pursue a career as a freelance journalist, he continues to work with the station to this day. As well as being the Clare Herald’s Chief Reporter Pat is also freelance journalist and broadcaster, contributing to Ireland’s national newspapers and is a regular contributor to national broadcasters.

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