BA flight at­ten­dant loses claim for trauma

She wit­nessed hor­rific death of a man as guards re­strained him

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - NEWS -

Former Bri­tish Air­ways purser Louise Gra­ham, 54, of Chal­font St Giles, has been haunted by flash­backs and de­pres­sion since the in­ci­dent.

She was trapped in the kitchen gal­ley of a Boe­ing 737 as three guards grap­pled with de­por­tee Jimmy Mubenga, who was be­ing flown back to An­gola.

Miss Gra­ham said she was ter­ri­fied by Mr Mubenga’s “howls” as he fought to es­cape the G4S se­cu­rity guards.

She told Judge Heather Baucher QC: “While he was be­ing re­strained I was just ab­so­lutely hor­ri­fied by the level of vi­o­lence.”

Miss Gra­ham, who lost the fly­ing ca­reer she loved due to her psy­chi­atric in­juries, sued G4S over the trau­matic legacy of the Oc­to­ber 2010 in­ci­dent.

Her le­gal team claimed Mr Mubenga’s death re­sulted from neg­li­gence on the part of the G4S guards in re­strain­ing their charge – lead­ing to re­stricted breath­ing and suf­fo­ca­tion.

Wit­ness­ing his last mo­ments while feel­ing both in dan­ger and pow­er­less trig­gered her men­tal breakdown, said Miss Gra­ham.

How­ever, Judge Baucher re­jected her six-fig­ure dam­ages claim, rul­ing that she could not be viewed as a di­rect “par­tic­i­pant” or “pri­mary vic­tim” of what hap­pened.

The judge said that “all in­volved have ac­knowl­edged that what oc­curred should not have hap­pened”.

Scott Matthew­son, for G4S, had con­ceded that Mr Mubenga “should not have been re­strained as he was”.

Mr Mubenga, a fa­ther-of­five from Gants Hill, Il­ford, died of suf­fo­ca­tion af­ter the guards hand­cuffed and re­strained him in his seat.

Miss Gra­ham said she was haunted by his last mo­ments and had played a key part in try­ing to calm pas­sen­gers.

But Judge Baucher said that by the time Mr Mubenga was calmed down and re­strained, Miss Gra­ham had no rea­son to feel she was per­son­ally in dan­ger.

By then Mr Mubenga’s “prospects of es­cape were nil”, she added.

“She was cer­tainly fright­ened at this time but not by rea­son of fear for her own safety.

“There­fore she can­not bring her­self within the cat­e­gory of a pri­mary vic­tim, fear­ing for her own safety.”

Speak­ing af­ter the rul­ing, re­gional gen­eral coun­sel for G4S in the UK and Ire­land, Gawie Nien­aber, said: “Any­one who saw the very dis­tress­ing cir­cum­stances of Mr Mubenga’s death couldn’t fail to have been af­fected.

“How­ever, the law makes clear the ba­sis on which those present may claim dam­ages.

“We have never dis­puted the pro­found im­pact that this in­ci­dent had on ev­ery­one con­nected to it and our deep­est sym­pa­thies re­main with Mr Mubenga’s fam­ily.”

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