Maltese authorities drop charges against British diver Steve Martin
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The British Sub-Aqua Club has announced today that the charges against BSAC diver Steve Martin have been dropped.
BSAC said that its member Stephen Martin had been charged with two counts of involuntary homicide following a diving incident in Gozo in 2014, in which two people tragically died.
This morning lawyers for BSAC member Stephen Martin were advised that all charges have been dropped by the Maltese Authorities, following a visit to the island's Attorney General by the British Sub-Aqua Club, last week.
The BSAC said that "it brings to an end a horrific nightmare for Stephen who could have faced up to ten years in prison if he had been found guilty in Malta."
Stephen was charged last July with two counts of involuntary homicide, following the deaths in Gozo in June 2014 of Larissa Hooley and Nigel Haines, The BSAC said that this was "despite the fact a UK inquest had concluded in February 2015 that they died due to a diving accident."
Speaking of his relief today Stephen said: "I am overwhelmed. This has been an utter nightmare for me, and I am just so relieved it is over. I feel I can finally start grieving for Larissa and Nigel, I just can't keep back the tears.
"I would like to thank everyone who has supported me over the last 12 months – I have been overwhelmed by the support of divers in the UK and worldwide and for all the efforts that have been made on my behalf to get these charges overturned."
Stephen concluded, "BSAC have also been really been fantastic. It's a great example of how they look after their members, and I can't thank them enough."
BSAC chief executive Mary Tetley said: "First of all I would like to extend our sympathies from all at the British Sub-Aqua Club to the families of Larissa Hooley and Nigel Haines.
"This was a tragic accident and Stephen is among the many who are still grieving their loss."
Mary Tetley added, "I would like to thank the Malta Tourism Authority for facilitating the crucial meeting with the Attorney General. The decision today brings to an end the horrendous ordeal which Stephen has suffered since he was charged, and we are both delighted and relieved for him."
Stephen's solicitor in the UK, Edward Elwyn Jones of Hodge Jones and Allen Solicitors described the charge as "bizarre, because it was not at all clear how the Maltese authorities proposed to prove that Stephen had actually caused the deaths of Larissa and Nigel."
He said: "We received notification from the UK Crown Prosecution Service this morning that the European Arrest Warrant for Stephen Martin had been withdrawn"
""I have also received notification from the Attorney General in Malta that the intended prosecution will no longer be proceeded with. This brings to an end a long and painful nightmare for Stephen"
"It is rare for an extradition request to be withdrawn. Often when they are it is as a result of lobbying outside the courtroom and BSAC are to be commended for the work they have done to highlight Stephen's plight at the highest level," concluded Edward Elwyn Jones.
Stephen's MP Sir Peter Bottomley who has also been supporting his case, said, "I'm grateful to the Maltese Attorney General for meeting with BSAC and reviewing the case and to Stephen's lawyer Ed Jones."
"I also pay tribute to the British Sub-Aqua Club and Stephen's lawyer Ed Jones for their efforts in this case."
Photograph by BSAC