Expedition firm cleared of neglect over polar bear death

A coroner has cleared an expedition company of neglect over its responsibility to protect Eton schoolboy Horatio Chapple, who was mauled to death on a school trip.

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Polar bear 'had tooth ache' when he attacked schoolboy

Horatio Chapple, 17, was mauled to death by a polar bear on a school trip to Norway in 2011. Credit: PA

The polar bear that mauled Eton schoolboy Horatio Chapple to death was old and suffering from tooth ache which made it more "aggressive and unpredictable," a coroner said.

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

Four others were hurt before the bear was shot dead at the Chanzin Fire campsite in the Svalbard islands, Norway on August 5, 2011.

Coroner Ian Singleton said the bear was able to enter the camp at around 7.30am undetected as the tripwire system, which worked "inconsistently" and had parts missing, failed to activate.

He added: "At the time of the attack the polar bear was 24 years of age, hungry and in pain from bad teeth, which more likely than not made it more aggressive and unpredictable."

Expedition firm cleared of neglect over polar bear death

A coroner has cleared an expedition company of neglect over its responsibility to protect Eton schoolboy Horatio Chapple, who was mauled to death on a school trip.

Credit: Family Handout/PA

The 17-year-old was attacked as he slept in a tent during an adventure holiday to Svalbard in Norway in August 2011.

The inquest in Salisbury heard there was no bear watch the night he died and a gun used to fire at the animal did not go off at first.

Ian Singleton, assistant coroner for Wiltshire and Swindon, found the group were missing items of equipment, including parts of the tripwire alert system which would have alerted them to the bear's presence.

However, he ruled the British Schools Exploring Society (BSES) - now renamed the British Exploring Society (BES)- had not acted with "neglect."

Returned a narrative verdict at the conclusion of a five-week long inquest, he said: "I do not find that neglect is appropriate to be considered, as failure (by BSES) was not total or complete."

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