Jury to hear full inquest of man who died while coasteering in Dorset

Dancing Ledge near Swanage
Dancing Ledge near Swanage

A jury is to hear the inquest of a 49-year-old man who died while coasteering at a popular beauty spot, a coroner has ruled.

Iain Farrell, from Dorney, near Windsor in Buckinghamshire, died while taking part in the sport, which involves climbing and swimming around a rocky part of a coast, at Dancing Ledge, near Swanage, in May 2019, with his two sons.

He was pulled unconscious from the sea and a number of other people had to be recovered from the water by the Coastguard and RNLI during the incident, which happened during an activity day run by adventure company Land & Wave.

Coroner Brendan Allen ruled at a pre-inquest review held in Bournemouth that a jury should hear the full hearing because the death was an accident that was required to be notified to the authorities as a matter of law.

Charlotte Jones, representing Mr Farrell’s widow, Amanda, said: “This is exactly the type of case a coroner would elect to sit with a jury because of the obvious public health and safety elements and concerns, given this was a commercial and open to the public activity that continues.

“There is an ongoing concern as to future prevention of incidents.”

Mr Allen said Mr Farrell’s family, Land & Wave and its representative, Charles Ridley, as well as Dorset Council, will be given interested person status at the full hearing.

He said the scope of the inquest will look at what safety briefings were given on the day, how the groups of participants were chosen, and how the instructor adapted to the conditions of the day.

He said the jury will also be required to look at the national guidance for coasteering activities, procedures used by Land & Wave, as well as Mr Farrell’s own health and swimming ability.

Mr Allen adjourned the case for a full hearing, which is expected to last two weeks, to start on September 18 2023, and added: “I would like to offer my condolences to the family of Mr Farrell.”