British teachers found not guilty after death of girl, 12, on French school trip

Jessica Lawson died after a pontoon capsized in a lake near the city of Limoges in July 2015.

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Three British teachers have been found not guilty of the equivalent of manslaughter by gross negligence after a 12-year-old girl drowned on a school trip in France.

Jessica Lawson died after a pontoon capsized in a lake near the city of Limoges in July 2015.
Jessica Lawson died after a pontoon capsized in a lake near the city of Limoges in July 2015.

Jessica Lawson died after a pontoon capsized in a lake near the city of Limoges in July 2015.

At the Palais de Justice in the French town of Tulle on Wednesday, Steven Layne, Chantelle Lewis and Daisy Stathers were all cleared of any wrongdoing.

Jessica Lawson died after a pontoon capsized in a lake near the city of Limoges in July 2015.
Jessica Lawson died after a pontoon capsized in a lake near the city of Limoges in July 2015.

The lifeguard on duty at the time, Leo Lemaire and the local authority in the town of Liginiac were also found not guilty.

Jessica’s father, Tony Lawson, left the courtroom when the verdicts were announced, with both Ms Lewis and Ms Stathers breaking down into tears.

Giving her verdicts through a translator to the Palais de Justice in Tulle on Wednesday, the head of jurisdiction in Tulle, Marie-Sophie Waguette, said of the incident: “The area was being surveyed by the lifeguard, the lifeguard was present, the flag was green.

“There was not any reason to think that the floating platform could turn over.

“We don’t know why her drowning took place at the time when the platform turned over.

“There is therefore no evidence to show that they were negligent – therefore you are found not guilty.”