A YOUNG sea cadet fell to his death from a ship’s rigging after unclipping his safety harness to help another cadet, an inquest heard.
Jonathan Martin, 14, died after hitting the side of the TS Royalist as it was anchored in Stokes Bay, off Gosport.
He was airlifted to Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham on May 2, 2010, but later died.
A jury was sworn in at Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court yesterday to hear the investigation into what happened.
Jonathan, from Kent, had been taking part in celebrations to mark the 150th anniversary of the sea cadet movement along with 18 other cadets on board the training ship.
The 14-year-old volunteered to go up the mast to bring the sails in.
After bringing in the topsail, Jonathan went to the aid of another sea cadet who was having trouble on the fore course yard.
He unclipped his harness and tried to pass another cadet to reach her but lost his footing and fell 26ft.
Detective Sergeant Nigel Lee, of Hampshire Constabulary, read a statement from the female cadet Jonathan had passed.
He said: ‘She saw Jonathan come towards her and she realised he had unclipped himself.
‘She told him to clip himself back on but he said he was going to help.
‘He tried to move around her. He was in this position for a couple of seconds when he said he was slipping.
‘His hand came off the yard. She tried to grab his arm but he fell backwards and somersaulted on to the deck.
‘He hit a wheelie bin and fell into the water.’
A post mortem examination showed Jonathan died of chest injuries caused by a fall.
The inquest heard all cadets were told to use their clips in a safety briefing.
Moving around another cadet on a yard was forbidden.
Jonathan had previously been seen by other cadets to unclip his harness but no-one had told the boat’s adult crew.
Howard Flegg, a marine accident investigator for the Marine Accident Investigation Branch, said: ‘He fell to the deck because he unclipped his belt harness contrary to his training.
‘However the MAIB has highlighted concerns over the supervision of cadets and suitability of belt harness provided.’