Detectives are investigating charges of corporate manslaughter following the death of an RAF parachute instructor on a jump near Bicester.

Sgt Rachel Fisk, 32, from Carterton, died during a jump on September 2 last year at RAF Weston on the Green.

At a pre-inquest review on this afternoon, Det Insp Mike Roddy of Thames Valley Police’s major crimes team said an investigation into Ms Fisk’s death was being run jointly with the Health and Safety Executive and overseen by a nationally-accredited homicide detective.

Officers were investigating potential offences of corporate manslaughter, gross negligence manslaughter and serious Health and Safety at Work Act offences.

The investigators met with Crown Prosecution Service lawyers in December for ‘early investigative advice’ and another meeting was expected to take place in the spring.

Mr Roddy said that lines of enquiry being followed included checking the equipment used by Ms Fisk and ‘interrogating digital data’ relating to the exercise at the RAF base on the day of her death.

“At this time I am unable to provide a date for completion of this work,” he told the hearing.

Last year, when the inquest into Ms Fisk’s death was opened, Oxford Coroner’s Court heard that the sergeant was found unresponsive in a field in Simms Farm, Chesterton, on the evening of September 2.

Her death followed a planned parachute jump and it ‘appeared her parachute failed to open’, the court was told.

At Tuesday’s hearing, senior coroner Darren Salter read a statement from Air Marshal Steve Shell, the director general of the Defence Safety Authority.

The senior officer said a ‘serious incident panel’ was investigating the death on behalf of the DSA and was expected to complete its report in June.

Air Marshal Shell said of that report: “It will provide reassurance the accident has been thoroughly investigated and where possible identify the cause of the accident and identify the contributory aggravating and other factors. Any recommendations will enable Defence to learn and implement measures to prevent reoccurrence.”

Mr Salter adjourned the case for a further pre-inquest review, expected to take place in six or seven months.

He told Sgt Fisk’s parents, who attended the pre-inquest review via video link, that an inquest may not take place if the parachute instructor’s death results in a trial at the crown court. If an inquest was held, it would likely be a jury inquest – as was common in cases of deaths at work.

Last year, the RAF physical training instructor’s former colleagues paid tribute. Ft Lt Nathan Ellis, commanding officer at the Joint Service Parachute Centre, said: "Rachel brought life, enjoyment and fun to all – her love for the job was infectious and she created a bond with everyone she worked with. She was a natural and conscientious instructor and a role model for her students.”

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