Wigan sailor's death: Shipmates broke down in tears on hearing news of tragic accident

Sailors aboard a Royal Navy ship broke down in tears upon hearing of the tragic death of a Wigan sailor, an inquest heard.

Tuesday, 5th March 2019, 2:10 pm
Updated Tuesday, 5th March 2019, 3:12 pm
Simon Allen

Simon Allen, from Aspull, was fatally injured when he was hit by a car while on shore leave in Malta in September 2016.

The 30-year-old had been making his way back to his ship, HMS Daring, when he staggered into the road and was struck by an oncoming vehicle.

In an inquest at Bolton Coroners Court, Commander Phillip Dennis said that breaking the news of Simon’s death to his crew members was the hardest thing he has ever had to do in his illustrious career.

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The inquest also heard several details of Simon’s life. Born in Bury but raised in Aspull, he surprised his family in 2005 when he revealed he was enlisting in the Royal Navy.

He met his wife Rachel in 2011, and the couple relocated to Portsmouth, where they had a son. They separated in 2013 but had not divorced.

Since 2015, he had been a Leading Engineer Technician on board HMS Daring, a Type 45 destroyer.

The ship was on its way to a nine-month deployment to the Persian Gulf in the fight against Daesh - also known as Isis - when it temporarily docked in the Maltese port of Palumbo Bay.

Simon, along with most of the ship’s company, had been granted liberty (shore leave) until the following morning, and he made his way into the nearby capital Valetta with other crew members.

He had later made his own way, alone, to St Julian’s, a nearby town popular for its nightlife.

Around midnight, fellow seamen John Fowler was in a taxi back to the ship along with two other crew members. They were driving through the town of Msida, when he saw Simon walking along the pavement by the side of a dual carriageway.

He asked the taxi driver to stop and let him in, but the driver informed him he could not stop on the dual carriageway, and continued the journey back to the dockyard.

It was only a short while after this sighting that Simon, who was heavily drunk, stumbled into the road and was struck by another car. He was given CPR at the scene and rushed to hospital where resuscitation efforts continued, but his extensive injuries were “unsurvivable.”

The following morning, the unfortunate task of breaking the news to Simon’s fellow servicemen fell to Commander Dennis.

“Telling the ship’s company that someone had died that night was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in 25 years in the Navy,” he told coroner Alan Walsh.

“He was a strong leader. He was looked up to by junior levels, he was an essential member of mess life. I saw grown men openly crying.”