Jessica Lawson's mum speaks out after teachers cleared of manslaughter

Jessica Lawson's parents, Brenda and Antony, left the French court in tears. Credit: ITV News

The family of a 12-year-old girl who died on a school trip to France say there is "no win, no lose, no draw" after her teachers were acquitted of manslaughter.

Jessica Lawson was swimming in a lake near Limoges with a group from Wolfreton School, near Hull, when she drowned after a pontoon capsized in 2015.

On Wednesday, 5 October, teachers Steven Layne, Chantelle Lewis and Daisy Stathers, along with lifeguard Leo Lemaire, were found not guilty of involuntary manslaughter by gross negligence.

Jessica's parents, Antony and Brenda Lawson, left the French court in tears following the verdict.

Jessica Lawson. Credit: Family handout

On Thursday, in an apparent reference to the outcome of the case, Mrs Lawson wrote on the Jessica Lawson Foundation Facebook page: "No win, no lose, no draw. Enough is enough."

But she added: "We, as a family, stand proud and remain united... [with] a closeness borne from our tragedy.

"Over the past two days, the world media has 'said her name' and that, for our family, is ok.

"I am Jessica's mum, she is my baby girl. No court in any land can take that away from me."

The teachers could have faced a maximum penalty of five years in prison if convicted. But judges at the Palais de Justice in Tulle acquitted them following a two-day hearing.

Giving her verdicts through a translator, the head of jurisdiction in Tulle, Marie-Sophie Waguette, said there was no reason anyone could have predicted the pontoon could overturn.

"We don’t know why her drowning took place at the time when the platform turned over. There is therefore no evidence to show that they were negligent," she said.

Daisy Stathers, Chantelle Lewis and Steven Layne were all acquitted of manslaughter. Credit: ITV News

The three teachers, who all still work in the profession, were visibly emotional after the verdict, declining to talk to media.

But Mr Layne's lawyer Dominique Tricaud told reporters the court had found "nobody has committed any criminal mistake because nobody is able to say how Jessica drowned".

"All of us have children, all of us are with the family in their suffering but there is no criminal mistake."

Mrs Lawson had previously told the court she expected more transparency about what had happened from "those who had a duty of care for her" adding: "It has been seven years for me and my family of what can only be described as torturous suffering of not understanding what happened to her of why."

A spokesperson for Wolfreton School said the incident was a "terrible tragedy".

In a statement, the school said: "We cannot begin to imagine the pain and heartache Jessica's family has had to endure in the seven long years it has taken for this case to come before the French courts.

"Jessica was a lively and popular student, and her untimely death came as a profound shock to our school. She will never be forgotten here."

The family are considering an appeal in France.

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