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Last day of inquest into death of boy killed by polar bear

Video. The family of a boy killed by a polar bear on a school expedition are urging the coroner to find that the company that organised the trip was negligent and failed to protect their son.

Horatio Chapple, from Salisbury, was 17 when he died on an expedition to Svalbard in Norway in 2011. Others in the camp were also injured before the animal was shot dead by an expedition leader.

Richard Slee reports - on the final day of the inquest.


Last pieces of evidence to be heard in polar bear inquest

Today should be the last day that evidence will be heard at an inquest into the death of a teenager from Salisbury who was killed by a polar bear.

Horatio Chappel was on an expedition in Norway when the animal attacked him in August 2011.

The inquest has heard how the trip wire system that was meant to scare off the bears was not good enough.

The trip leader, who shot dead the polar bear, also told the inquest how his rifle failed to fire when the animal began to attack the group.

Teenager re-lives "terrifying" polar bear attack

A teenager has been re-living the terrifying moment a polar bear attacked him and killed his friend - during a school expedition in the Arctic.

Scott Benall Smith told an inquest into the death of Horatio Chapple from Salisbury - the tent was "shaking" - as if someone was trying to wake them up and then collapsed.

Horatio was on an adventure holiday on the remote Island of Svalbard in Norway in 2011 when he died. Four others were also injured by the animal who went on a rampage as the group slept in their tents.

With more details here's Martin Dowse.

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Polar bear attack survivor: I felt safe in the camp

A survivor of a deadly polar bear attack on a schools expedition in Norway has told an inquest he felt safe in the camp before the creature mauled him and his fellow explorers.

Patrick Flinders said the group received training on the use of trip wires on a briefing weekend before the trip with the British Schools Exploring Society "and a couple of days when we were out there".

However, he told the hearing he wasn't involved in the setting up of the system and said he also never had a discussion about a bear watch.

Mr Flinders says he also did some practice shooting with a rifle - shooting four rounds.


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'I saw polar bear dragging someone by his head'

A boy who was hurt by a polar bear that killed a fellow teenager has told an inquest that he "saw the bear dragging someone out by his head" when it attacked his group's camp.

The scene following the polar bear attack.

Patrick Flinders said he heard "rustling on the tent" when the attack took place in Svalbard, Norway - adding that he "thought people were just messing around from another group [...] until the tent collapsed."

He said he thought the attack he saw was on one of the expedition's leaders, but didn't see the bear attack anyone else, including 17-year-old Horatio Chapple, who died from his injuries.

He added: "Once the tent collapsed i got into a little ball and moved over to [Scott Bennell-Smith, fellow young explorer on the trip]"

"I'm not sure if Horatio got himself out or not."

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Boy mauled by polar bear 'found paw print days before'

A 17-year-old schoolboy mauled to death by a polar bear during an adventure holiday had found a paw print just two days prior to the lethal attack, an inquest has heard.

Horatio Chapple was dragged out of his tent and killed by the polar bear.

Horatio Chapple was on an adventure holiday to the remote Svalbard islands in August 2011 with the British Schools Exploring Society (BSES) when he died.

Lauren Beech, from Guildford, Surrey told the Salisbury inquest that Horatio had found a bear print in the ground just two days before the attack.

And she said that she also found out after the incident that the local authorities had issued a warning about increased polar bear activities in recent months before the attack.

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Bear attack group had 'improvised' defence system

The leader of the expedition on which a boy was killed by a polar bear has told an inquest the group had been supplied with an incomplete tripwire system.

The missing materials meant they had to set it up in a triangle formation rather than the advised rectangular shape, 31-year-old Michael Reid said.

He explained that his group also had to improvise using a paper clip to modify the trigger system because the brass fittings were missing.

He said: "The tripwire system in base camp worked inconsistently, the system that we tested at the ice-climbing camp on our first or second night out from the base camp operated 100% when we tested it."

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'No bear watch held' on night of deadly attack

The leader of a schools expedition on which a boy was killed by a polar bear has told an inquest a bear watch was not held on the night of the attack because it would have left the team tired and vulnerable to cold-related illness the next day.

Michael Reid, known as Spike, told the hearing into the death of 17-year-old Horatio Chapple that he wrestled the bear after a rifle failed to fire.

It was then shot dead with a second rifle, by which point lethal blows had been administered to the Eton pupil's head and upper body.

Horatio Chapple died after the polar bear attack in Norway in 2011. Credit: PA

The boy's parents said they examined a risk assessment document with Horatio before he left - adding they "would not have let him go" on the Arctic expedition without believing he would be properly protected.

However, the inquest heard that there was in fact a shortage of trip wires, mines and pen flares available to the young explorers, while Reid told the inquest that his rifle failed to fire upon the attack.

Mr Chapple said the risk assessment also suggested that a bear watch would take place at the camp.

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