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Coroner calls for more safety on naval ships after sailor Samuel Hatton shot himself on HMS Cattistock
4:22pm Thursday 23rd August 2012 in Southampton
Engineering Technician (ET) Samuel “Ricky” Hatton killed himself using a rifle he removed from a faulty safety rack on HMS Cattistock, where he was serving.
The inquest at Portsmouth heard that the 20-year-old had been hit hard by the death of Matthew “Spider” Webster, who had shot himself on boardanother minehunter, HMs Hurworth, in February 2010.
ET Hatton had permission to access the gun store on HMS Cattistock, but was not allowed to handle a weapon - after he was unable to complete crucial training because it reminded him of his friend's death.
A safety rack holding the rifles on board had been broken for at least six months and had not been repaired, enabling ET Hatton to remove the weapon without a key.
Only two days earlier he had also been allowed to enter the ammunition store unaccompanied, which was against regulations.
Portsmouth Coroner David Horsley said that he would write to the Navy to ask it design and fit a more secure storage system to all of its warships.
Mr Horsley also called on the Navy to change its Joint Personnel Administration (JPA) system to enable warship captains to have access to the complete files of prospective crew members to ensure that they are suitable for the posting.
Describing ET Hatton as ''vulnerable'', Mr Horsley questioned whether a small ship such as Cattistock, which has a crew of only 45 people, was suitable for someone with a troubled past such as his.
The inquest heard that ET Hatton suffered from depression and had a difficult childhood.
His mother was a drug addict and he was born addicted to heroin while his father was an alcoholic.
The hearing was told that ET Hatton, who lived in Southampton, had received ''bullying'' comments from senior colleagues who asked: ''Not shot yourself yet?''
Mr Horsley said: ''The Navy had given him the first true home and stability in his life, the Navy was a family for him.''
But he added that because of his vulnerability, ET Hatton did not have the emotional mechanisms to handle the banter and remarks made by his colleagues.
Mr Horsley said: ''Anyone would be deeply distressed by the loss of a close friend but Sam took the death of Matthew Webster especially hard.
''I feel the Navy did not fully appreciate the depth of Sam's feelings following the death of his friend.
''I do not think this was the Navy's fault and I do not blame Sam for not expressing his feelings.''
Mr Horsley recorded a narrative verdict.