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Man jailed over golf ball ‘diver’ death

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The director of a company which sold golf balls retrieved from lakes has been sent to prison for 32 months after a man died trying to recover sunken balls at a course near Newport, Wales.

Appearing in Cardiff Crown Court, Dale Pike, of Glynneath, Neath Port Talbot, admitted manslaughter by gross negligence following the death of Gareth Pugh, who drowned while attempting to collect golf balls from the water at Peterstone Lakes Golf Club back in February 2016. Pugh was found 70 minutes after he had first entered the very cold water floating feet upwards, held down by a weightbelt and a 16kg bag of 341 golf balls that he had collected. He had been using a form of SNUBA device, with an air compressor in an inflatable float on the surface and a regulator on a long hose, but died after losing his mouthpiece.

Pike, who is 25, runs Boss Golf Balls, which sells balls retrieved from lakes, and should have employed trained divers to undertake the work, which would have cost around £1,000 a day, but instead he set Pugh – who was not a qualified diver – to the task for just £20-£40 a day. Judge Keith Thomas said: “Mr Pugh was an unsuitable contender for the diving work you employed him to undertake, but you allowed him to take those risks to make a quick buck.

“The risk of death or serious injury was obvious to you, but your cavalier attitude towards safety was the cause of Mr Pugh's death.

Speaking after the hearing, Iwan Jenkins, from the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “There was clear evidence Pike had made enquiries with legitimate dive operators to cost this activity but he chose not to use them, instead falsely claiming to the golf club that he was a qualified commercial diver with his own equipment.”

Mark Evans
Mark Evans
Scuba Diver's Editorial Director Mark Evans has been in the diving industry for nearly 25 years, and has been diving since he was just 12 years old. nearly 40-odd years later and he is still addicted to the underwater world.
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