The 12-year-old Jessica Lawson’s family has been left “devastated” after a French court exonerated instructors of manslaughter by gross negligence, according to their attorney. Jessica Lawson died while on a school trip to France.
In July 2015, Jessica, a pupil at Wolfreton School in Willerby, died while swimming in a lake close to the city of Limoges.
The three instructors accused of the act that led to Jessica’s death—Steven Layne, Chantelle Lewis, and Daisy Stathers—were asking for a three-year sentence from the court. They were exonerated of wrongdoing on Wednesday.
Tony and Brenda Lawson, her parents, had hoped that the three East Yorkshire teachers’ trial would shed light on the seven-year-old mystery surrounding their daughter’s death.
However, the Hull attorney who was their representative said that they were unhappy with the result. The family is now thinking of filing a “civil appeal.”
According to Hull attorney Stephen Orridge of Pepperells Solicitors, “the family are utterly distraught.” They expected to get a lot of replies from the previous two days, but I don’t believe they have.
Mr. Orridge said, “In my judgment, that was an unexpected conclusion,” in a statement to BBC Radio Humberside. To get answers and justice for the Lawsons, we will keep collaborating with them.
After the decision was announced on Wednesday, Jessica’s grieving parents could be seen sobbing profusely on the stairs outside the court. Tony had left the courtroom as soon as the instructors were found not guilty, distraught.
Another image captured Chantelle Lewis and Steven Layne in tears inside the Palais du Justice after the decision.
The family didn’t respond right away to the judgments outside of court, but Mrs. Lawson wrote on Thursday on the Jessica Lawson Foundation Facebook page: “No win, no loss, no draw.” It’s enough enough.
“We, as a family, stand strong and continue to be one.”
a bond forged by our misfortune. A bond that continues to be strengthened by our compass.
She still goes under the name Jessica Lawson.
The international media has “pronounced her name” during the last two days, Mrs. Lawson said.
And that’s OK for our family, too.
Love that is unconditional has great power. Immeasurable.
“I’m Brenda Lawson, Jessica’s mother,” I said. She’s my little daughter. No court in any country will ever be able to take it away from me.
Marie-Sophie Waguette, the head of jurisdiction in Tulle, delivered her decisions via a translator yesterday. She said: “With respect to the instructors, Mr. Layne, Miss Lewis, and Miss Stathers, you have been accused of not having properly complied with risk-evaluation standards.
The court, however, held that you were not required to do any particular inspections.
The lifeguard was on duty, he or she was inspecting the area, and a green flag was flying.
It is not apparent from today’s discussions or the information given, said Miss Waguette, that the instructors ever disregarded their obligation to keep an eye on the activities.
There was no justification for anticipating that the floating platform may go over.
The court, according to Miss Waguette, was aware that between five and ten minutes had passed between the platform tipping over and the lifeguard pulling Jessica from the sea.
“We don’t know why she drowned at the same moment the platform collapsed. You are judged not guilty since there is no evidence to support their negligence.
Their trial heard on Tuesday how Miss Lewis “began to fear” during the encounter and inquired, “Where’s Jess?”
When she learned Jessica was gone, Miss Stathers, a colleague of hers, said she too got ‘increasingly terrified,’ but she tried to remain composed since there were 23 other pupils to get out of the water with.
The instructor in charge of the excursion, Mr. Layne, said in court that he believed the pontoon to be a safety measure. According to Mr. Layne, neither the lifeguard nor the students showed “any form of anxiety” throughout the event.
Ms. Stathers’ attorney, Stephane Babonneau, said in court Wednesday at the Palais de Justice in the French town of Tulle that his client and her coworkers experienced comparable sadness to the Lawson family after Jessica’s death.
Tony Lawson, a grieving father, was moved to leave the courtroom after hearing the comment, but Ms. Lewis swiftly clarified that the agony she was referring to was “different from what the family endures.”
Shortly after Mr. Lawson left the courtroom, the chief of the Tulle jurisdiction postponed the proceedings.
When given the chance to speak, Mr. Layne and Ms. Stathers refused.
The attorney for Ms. Lewis said that the instructors’ response times were as quick as they could be and clarified that dynamically monitoring pupils did not need glancing at each kid “every microsecond.”
The PE instructor “suffers under the weight of duty,” he said.
Anis Harabi, one of the attorneys for Mr. Layne, said that Jessica’s death was an accident with no “culprits” and that his client shouldn’t be held to a standard of “clairvoyance.”
Mr. Harabi said that since the swimming area was “managed,” Mr. Layne did not consider it to be hazardous.
Dominique Tricaud, another attorney for Mr. Layne, said that when the instructors discovered Jessica was gone, they responded “simultaneously” and that the group was searching “tirelessly.”
All three of the instructors were to get a three-year prison term, according to the prosecution.
Leo Lemaire, the lifeguard who was on duty at the time, and the Liginiac town council were also found not guilty.