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INQUEST HEARS FATHER AND SON DROWNED

AN INQUEST into the deaths of a father and son in a Russian fishing accident heard how the two men had been looking forward to their trip for years.

Well-known businessman Keith Harrison, 69, of Derbyhaven, and his son Richard, 40, from London, drowned two weeks ago in a fishing accident on the Yokanga River, which is in the remote Kola Peninsular in the north west of the country.

Coroner Michael Moyle explained the inquest was being held in the Island because inquest jurisdiction is decided according to which coroner's district the bodies are lying in – it is irrelevant for inquest purposes where the deaths occurred.

The Harrisons were flown home on Wednesday. A private cremation is expected to take place here this week.

Mr Moyle said there was potential for problems in conducting an inquest into a death which had occurred in another country because of the different way jurisdictions deal with investigations.

However, he said documentation from the Russian Ministry of Public Health showed the cause of death was drowning for both men and he didn't intend to order another post-mortem unless Mr Harrison's wife, Marian, would wish another to be carried out.

Advocate Martin Moore, appearing on behalf of Mrs Harrison, said she did not.

'Paperwork sent from Russia indicates both parties drowned and that there was a police inquiry,' said Mr Moyle.

Mr Moore said the Foreign Office had been helpful, especially the consul in St Petersburg. He said he'd asked for statements from Murmansk but added the remote area where the Harrisons were fishing was around 170 miles from Murmansk.

Mr Moore said he didn't know the name of the boat guide who was with the Harrisons when they died. The guide survived the accident.

Mr Moyle read a statement from Robert Grant Sloss, the husband of Mr Harrison's daughter Maxine, who was on the same trip as his father-in-law and brother-in-law.

Mr Sloss identified the bodies. He wasn't an eye witness to the accident because he was fishing on a different part of the river when it happened.

Mr Moore said the river was high and there were blizzard conditions at the time of the accident.

'They were both very, very experienced fishermen,' said Mr Moore. 'It was their first visit to Russia, something they'd both been looking forward to for some years.

'They were both keenly involved in the sport, it's a sport that I'm afraid does have dangers, once one looks at the figures in the UK.'

Adjourning the inquest, Mr Moyle said: 'The two people were involved in an accident, it's just that it is a bit sketchy at the moment. There's no suggestion of foul play.'

Last week, Alistair Ballantine, chief executive of Frontiers International Travel, the company the Harrisons booked their trip with, told the Examiner investigations into the accident were continuing, with the emphasis on a broken anchor rope.

 
 
 

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