Marine died after military exercise in the Solent

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A Royal Marine died after falling from the side of a ship after becoming fatigued during a military training exercise in Hampshire, an inquest has heard.

Sergeant Andrew Pearson, 37, had been attached by a safety line but this was urgently cut when it caused him to become choked by his utility vest, which had been put on incorrectly, the inquest heard.

He was among a group of marines carrying out the exercise to board a moving ship in the Solent, off Portsmouth, Hampshire, during darkness on the evening of January 27, 2010, when the accident happened.

The inquest at Portsmouth heard that Sgt Pearson was the last of the marines being carried on rigid inflatable boats (Ribs) to climb up a caving ladder suspended from the navy supply ship RFA Fort Rosalie.

Detective Sergeant Stephen Spencer, of Hampshire Police, who investigated the death, said that as Sgt Pearson reached the top of the ladder he became fatigued and got into difficulties.

He said that Sgt Pearson did not hook on to the ladder to give himself a rest and enable him to recoup his energy. And as he reached the top of the ladder, he called for help from the ladder safety officer, named only as Soldier C in the inquest, who was standing on board the Fort Rosalie.

Soldier C attempted to grab his hand but when he was unable to reach him, he attached a safety line to the handle of the cache jacket, a military utility jacket, worn by Sgt Pearson.

Mr Spencer described how Sgt Pearson, referred to as Soldier F, “peeled” away from the ship but as he became suspended by the rope, his cache jacket rose up and started to choke him. He said that Soldier C then cut the safety line and Sgt Pearson fell into the sea, where he was picked out of the water by the Rib crew.

He was airlifted to the Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth by a Royal Navy Sea King helicopter where, despite continued attempts to resuscitate him, he was pronounced dead at 12.50am. Mr Spencer said that examination of Sgt Pearson’s cache jacket showed that he had only attached one of two crotch straps which are designed to stop it from rising up the body.

Dr Basil Purdue, Home Office pathologist, said that a post mortem examination showed that Sgt Pearson died as a combination of his breathing having been restricted, a fall from a height and drowning.