Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Oilman Died in Tragic Rescue Attempt

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Oilman Died in Tragic Rescue Attempt

Article excerpt

Byline: By ANDREW PAIN

A TEESSIDE oil worker kidnapped by Nigerian pirates demanding a multi-million-pound ransom was accidentally killed when a rescue attempt went tragically wrong.

Middlesbrough grandfather David John Hunt was cut down in an exchange of gunfire between rebels and the Nigerian Navy.

He had been snatched with six other oil workers from the Mystras - a tanker and oil refinery based 60 miles off the coast of Nigeria - where he had worked for just nine weeks.

Teesside Coroner's Court was told the militant rebels were acting for a Nigerian worker who had been in dispute with the company over a wrongful dismissal claim.

In their ransom note, militant rebels, The Supreme Egbusu Boys - who describe themselves as "Freedom Fighters" - demanded the equivalent of just over pounds 2.5m in US dollars for sacked Mystras worker Victor Pickett.

They boarded the vessel at around midnight on November 22, 2006, having arrived in six wooden fishing boats, and made their demands.

After waiting for six hours for a response from the company which ran the operation, FMPP/SBM, the rebels took seven hostages back on their boats - including Mr Hunt, 58.

As the rebels made their way back to shore in their rowing boats, they were attacked by the Nigerian Navy, who were attempting to liberate the hostages.

In the ensuing firefight, Mr Hunt was fatally wounded by two bullets - one to the head and one to the chest.

Two kidnappers were also killed and a fellow hostage injured.

Mr Hunt's wife Janice, 56, who lived with her husband in their home at Tollesby Lane, Marton, told the inquest her husband had initially refused to go to Nigeria due to safety concerns.

She said: "The company said he was 100% safe, otherwise he would not have gone."

Fellow oil worker, maintenance supervisor Peter O'Brien, described security on board the Mystras as "useless". …

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