07 March 2006

Diving businessman ruled liable over wife's death

A US dive shop owner has been found liable for the death of his wife, in a civil case that awarded the victim's parents more than $3.5 million in damages.

A Superior Court jury found that David Swain, 50, who ran a dive shop in Jamestown, Rhode Island, killed his wife Shelley Tyre, 46, during a dive off the Caribbean island of Tortola in 1999.

According to a report by The Providence Journal, the jury accepted testimony from experts that, based on examination of the victim's scuba gear, Swain had attacked his wife from behind at a depth of 24m, turned off her air and forced her to drown. However, Swain has never been charged with any crime.

Tyre's parents were reportedly awarded $2 million in punitive damages and $1,534,943 in compensatory damages. Tyre, according to her lawyer, had given up a $70,000-a-year job as an academy principal to take a lower-paid teaching job closer to home, in trying to salvage a marriage which she believed was in trouble.

Had the pair divorced, it was reported, a prenuptial agreement would have left Swain with nothing. Upon Tyre's death, Swain reportedly collected $570,000 from policies and other sources. However, he is reported to have filed for bankruptcy last autumn.

In the USA, as in Britain, in contrast to criminal trials in which guilt has to be proved beyond all reasonable doubt, in civil hearings a jury may find a defendant liable if such a position seems firmly likely under the weight of evidence presented.

Source: www.divernet.com


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