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September 2015    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 30, No. 9   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Diver Charged with Involuntary Homicide for Friendsí Deaths;

from the September, 2015 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Stephen Martin, a dive instructor from Rustington, England, was diving with eight friends from the British Sub- Aqua Club in Malta last June when Larissa Hooley, his girlfriend of five years, descended from 49 feet to 114 feet without warning. "I thought she dived down because she dropped her flashlight, but she just kept getting lower and lower," Martin, 55, told the Littlehampton Gazette.

Martin's friend, Nigel Haines, and another diver went down to help Hooley, 48, and brought her to the surface. Martin says he pulled Hooley back to shore and tried to resuscitate her but she died on the beach. Haines, 59, was also in trouble after helping to rescue Hooley. "He had a burst lung through going to the surface not breathing," Martin said. "But because he was on the surface, he looked like he was OK."

Now Martin is fighting extradition back to Malta, where he faces involuntary homicide charges of causing the deaths of Hooley and Haines. Martin insists he is innocent of the charges and is fighting an order stating he should be extradited to Malta to face the charges, which carry a maximum 10-year prison sentence.

After hearing from witnesses and medical experts, a coroner in Brighton concluded the deaths were the result of immersion pulmonary edemas, and classified them as dive accidents. But the Maltese authorities accuse Martin of being negligent in his obligations. According to the Daily Mailł they say he "failed to keep a close watch" of Haines and Hooley, and should have halted the dive, due to "prevailing weather conditions." Martin has more than 15 years' dive experience, while Hooley had learned to dive recently in Thailand.

Martin rejects the claims. He said he was interviewed by Maltese authorities after the incident but then heard nothing from them until he was arrested on July 7 by his local police officers, acting on the European arrest warrant. The next day, a British judge approved his extradition to Malta, in line with a treaty between the two countries. Martin has lodged an appeal with the High Court and says, "This was a holiday, there was no official leader of the group. I feel like I'm being made a scapegoat by the Maltese government."

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