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Family of plane crash victim lose compensation bid

Photo: © Pat Flynn 2015

Hong Cassley clutches a framed photo of her husband James who died tragically in 2010. Photo: © Pat Flynn 2010

The family of an Irishman killed when his plane crashed in a remote African jungle in 2010 has lost its 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 after funeral mass in Co Clare. He is survived by his widow Hong and parents Hector and Mona who run a family butcher’s in Quin.

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 this week, Mr Justice Coulson rejected both claims saying the companies weren’t at fault.

“In my view, the twin causes of the crash were pilot error: the decision to fly into the cloud when descending and the failure to identify the proximity of the Avima Ridge,” the Judgement states.

Partner in the Aviation and Travel Department at Stewarts Law in London, Ms Sarah Stewart, led the case on behalf of the family.

“We are disappointed with the judgment and cannot comment further at this stage, as we are reviewing grounds for appeal,” Ms Stewart said yesterday (Wednesday).

At the time of his tragic death, Mr Cassley had only just completed his probationary period with GMP. The company had indicated however that, had Mr Cassley continued as he was doing, he would have been offered a junior partnership with GMP within 2 to 3 years.

Details of the court judgement also state that Mr Cassely’s family originally made a claim against Aero-Service, the operators of the ill-fated aircraft, whose insurers paid out around €600,000.

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