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Negligent diver who had foot sliced off by propeller loses claim for compensation

Buoy markers were not used

A diver who in May 2009 had his left foot sliced off by the propeller of a speedboat while diving off the coast of San Blas in Gozo has been denied compensation as a court ruled the mishap was brought about solely by his own negligence.

Louis Bonavia, 59, had set sail on a fishing spree in his dinghy together with a friend, Ian Busuttil, on May 25, 2009. The court heard how the two left Marfa and headed towards San Blas in the limits of Nadur.

The court observed that the dinghy was moored 1,300 metres from the coast and not 300 metres as had been alleged by the applicant. It also noted that the divers, who were wearing wet suits, were some 25 to 30 metres away from their dinghy when the accident happened. Moreover, none of the three buoy markers on the dinghy had been used to signal the presence of the divers in the water.

The First Hall of the Civil Court, presided by Mr Justice Silvio Meli, concluded that the unfortunate accident was accountable solely to the grave negligence of Mr Bonavia. When questioned in court, the applicant was unable to explain why the markers had not been used, especially since the divers had been quite far off from the dinghy.

When Mr Bonavia's foot was hit by the propeller, the speedboat was being driven by John Bonello at a slow speed, although there were no legal speed limits in the area which was well outside the swimmmers' zone, court experts said.

In denying the applicant's claim for compensation, Mr Justice Silvio Meli "in spite of claiming vast experience in this particular field”, the diver “totally ignored the rules governing safety at sea".

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