‘Neglect’ not a factor in deaths of Suffolk Tunisia attack victims, inquest told
- Credit: PA
A coroner has today ruled out 'neglect' by the owners and staff at a Tunisian hotel where 30 British tourists – including two from Suffolk – were brutally killed by an Islamic extremist as one of the causes of their deaths.
Judge Nicholas Loraine-Smith said there was nothing the holiday resort could have done before the attack that would have done more than 'possibly make a difference'.
He said he could not include 'neglect' by holiday firm TUI or the owners of the five-star Riu Imperial Marhaba Hotel when ruling on the deaths of the British victims of Seifeddine Rezgui.
Felixstowe man Philip Heathcote and dad-of-one Stuart Cullen from Lowestoft lost their lives in the incident.
Mr Heathcote's wife Alison told the inquest that, after being shot five times herself, she 'played dead' next to her dead or dying husband to avoid being shot again.
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The judge, sitting as coroner at the victims' inquest, said the law regarding neglect did not cover tourists on holiday.
The lawyers for more than 20 of Rezgui's victims had wanted this included after the lengthy inquest heard evidence from survivors that they were not warned of the danger of holidaying in Tunisia before they left.
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The inquests also heard the hotel had just a handful of unarmed guards, while 'cowardly' local police delayed their arrival to tackle Rezgui, who killed 38 people in total.
Giving his reasons for rejecting a neglect ruling, Judge Loraine-Smith said there were a lot of 'what ifs' around the case, and better hotel security may simply have meant more people died on the beach.
The only factor that may have made a material difference was if the hotel had armed guards.
Judge Loraine-Smith said: 'Having reviewed the legal advice on gun law in Tunisia it's clear this was not a realistic option.
'The simple but tragic truth in this case is that a gunman armed with a gun and grenades went to that hotel intending to kill as many tourists as he could.'