The widow and nine-year-old son of a tragic scuba diver have returned to court to sue the boating firm hired for the fateful trip.
Lex Warner, 50, died after exiting the MV Jean Elaine while diving off the Sutherland coast in 2012.
Mr Warner’s widow Debbie is suing Orkney’s Scapa Flow Charters in a £500,000 action on behalf of her nine-year-old son Vincent.
Andy Cuthbertson, 63, the skipper of the vessel, told the Court of Session in Edinburgh today that prior to the dive Mr Warner had taken a tumble on the boat, which was north-west of Cape Wrath.
He said he heard “a thud” and looked out a window and saw Mr Warner on his knees. He and a crewman helped him back up.
Mr Cuthbertson said: “He was calling himself some fairly strong expletives, cursing himself about being stupid.
“I asked him if he was alright. He said he was perfectly fine, not hurt or anything.”
He said he asked the diver if he wanted to sit this one out but Mr Warner told him: “Get me in the water, get me in, get me in.”
Mr Cuthbertson was asked if he had any reason to think Mr Warner had suffered an injury and replied: “None whatsoever. Not the way he was talking.”
Family’s legal fight for compensation
Mrs Warner, of Sutton Coldfield, in the West Midlands, had previously sued on her own behalf but her claim was ruled to be time-barred.
She was at court today with Vincent to see the start of the proceedings, which have been set down for eight days. Liability is contested in the action.
Eugene Farrell, 59, a former chairman of the British Sub-Aqua Club, told the court that he had dived with Mr Warner “maybe a 100 times”.
Mr Farrell said: “He was certainly somebody that I felt comfortable diving with and would have felt comfortable continuing to dive with. He was a very careful diver.”
Mr Farrell said that if Mr Warner felt uncomfortable on a dive or if his health was not right he would say he was going to call off.
He told Robert Milligan QC, for the son, that when a diver was fully equipped with his heavy gear he had to be very careful.
“It causes a significant difference to your balance,” he said.
Legal action claiming neglect and fault
Under cross-examination by Andrew Smith QC, for Scapa Flow Charters, he agreed that technical diving can be dangerous.
Mr Farrell said that he had dived with Mr Warner at depths of 70 to 80 metres previously.
The action claims that there was fault and neglect on the part of Stromness-based Scapa Flow Charters in failing to take reasonable care for the safety of Mr Warner.
The firm maintains that Mr Warner, an industrial cleaning contractor, had a duty to walk across the deck carefully because of the heavy equipment he was wearing along with fins.
It is contended that Mr Warner’s decision to dive resulted in him experiencing increased levels of abdominal pain due to underwater pressure which in turn led to rapid ascent and death.
The hearing before Lord Sandison continues.