Live updates

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.

  1. National

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.


  1. National

'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."

  1. National

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.

  1. National

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."

  1. National

'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.


  1. National

Trip leader's rifle 'failed to fire' as polar bear mauled boy

A trip leader who shot dead a polar bear on a schools expedition has told an inquest his rifle failed to fire when the creature began attacking the group.

Michael Reid or 'Spike' from Plymouth, Devon said he was awoken by several people shouting "bear attack". He then grabbed the group's rifle and left his tent.

I cocked the rifle, took aim, aimed it carefully as I didn't want to shoot the YE, although it was close I didn't want to injure the [young explorers] or worse.

So I took a carefully aimed shot at the bear in the chest area of the bear but the rifle didn't fire. I cocked the rifle again and took another attempt at an aimed shot at the bear.

I do not know why this failure was happening and so I carried on this until the magazine was empty.

– Michael Reid

He said the bear then attacked him, before he grabbed his own rifle and killed the bear "as it was attacking someone else".

  1. National

Trip leader 'wrestled with polar bear' that killed teen

The trip leader of an expedition in which a 17-year-old boy was mauled to death by a polar bear has told an inquest how he wrestled with the predator as it attacked him after his rifle failed to fire.

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

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.

The Eton pupil, from Salisbury, Wiltshire, was sleeping in his tent when the bear went on the rampage, inflicting fatal injuries to his head and upper body.

Michael Reid, known as Spike, from Plymouth, Devon, told the Salisbury inquest: "I remember the bear biting my head and I thought the weakest part is the eyes so I tried to take out the eyes with my fingers, but was unsuccessful."

Four others were hurt before the bear was eventually shot dead at the camp site, where the group, known as Chanzin Fire, had been staying.

System to scare off polar bears wasn't good enough

Parents of a student killed by a polar bear during a school trip to Norway said today they thought he would be properly protected. 17-year-old Horatio Chapple, from Salisbury, died during an expedition to Svalbard. Another student was also injured before the expedition leader shot the bear dead.

Today, an independent report into Horatio's death found a trip wire system that was meant to scare off the animals wasn't good enough. Andrew Pate reports.

  1. West Country

Polar bear attack lasted "just a few minutes"

Horatio Chapple Credit: ITV News

A polar bear ripped open the tent of a 17-year-old and dragged him out causing "mortal wounds" to his head, according to an independent report into the tragedy which happened during an Arctic adventure holiday.

Sir David Steel describes the incident during his report commissioned by the British Schools Exploring Society (BSES) into the death of Horatio Chapple in Svalbard, Norway.

Sir David said the attack, which "lasted no more than a few minutes" took place at about 7.30am on August 5, 2011, while the group, known as the Chanzin Fire, was still asleep.

In his report, Sir David criticises the reliance on a trip-wire warning system and advises the adoption of a bear watch and an overhaul of rifle training to prevent future tragedies.

He describes how the bear had approached through the north-western side of the trip-wire system but none of the warning mines had exploded.

In the report in which the names of the people have been redacted and replaced with coded letters, Sir David says: "The bear appears to have initially made its way to the tent containing E7, E3 and Horatio.

"It would appear likely that the bear must have ripped open the tent on Horatio's side. It then dragged Horatio out causing serious, indeed probably mortal wounds to his head.

Sir David said that a post mortem on Horatio concluded that his death was caused by "extensive soft tissue and bone injuries to the face and neck including destruction of the right facial artery".

He went on to praise the group members for their bravery.

He said: "All members including not least Horatio demonstrated great courage in the face of the attack which started while the camp was asleep.

"Likewise considerable presence of mind was shown by the uninjured members of the party in the aftermath of the attack in tending to the wounded and calling for help."

Load more updates