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Home   Medway   News   Article

Wainscott couple John and Mandy Rodford attend trial of Costa Concordia captain Francesco Schettino as they launch compensation bid

27 May 2014
by Medway Messenger reporter

A couple from Wainscott who survived the sinking of the cruise liner Costa Concordia are reportedly suing the ship's firm for two million euros (£1.6m).

John and Mandy Rodford were rescued from the stricken vessel in 2012 after it capsized off the Tuscan coast in Italy in a disaster which claimed the lives of 32 people.

The much-criticised captain of the luxury ship, Francesco Schettino, is on trial for manslaughter in Grosseto and the Rodfords have both attended the hearing, it was reported last night.

The Costa Concordia pictured by the Rodfords about to set off on its ill-fated voyage

The Costa Concordia pictured by the Rodfords about to set off on its ill-fated voyage

Mr Rodford, 48, is reported to have told the court: "We have asked for a million euro each in damages.

"Costa Cruises [the ship's owner] did not give us any emergency instructions when we left - instead something was planned for the following day.

''It is difficult to accept that the company is still operating and we are having trouble sleeping more than two years after the tragic events of that night."

Mandy, 46, told the hearing: "Costa Cruises needs to suffer as we have - we almost lost our lives."

Mr Rodford had gone on the cruise to celebrate their wedding anniversary. The couple had been among the 4,000 passengers. The liner hit a reef and ran aground off Giglio, an island off the coast of Tuscany, less than two hours after leaving Civitavecchia. 

The couple had been celebrating their wedding anniversary and at the time the family revealed how Mr Rodford had to persuade his wife to go because "she didn't like boats".

Daughter Zoe said at the time: "It was really shocking at first, I had a cry."Dad said they were having dinner when they heard a crashing sound and the next thing they knew was the boat was moving from side to side. 

John and Mandy Rodford in a lifeboat after the Concordia cruise ship disaster

John and Mandy Rodford in a lifeboat after the Concordia cruise ship disaster

"People were telling them to leave the boat. Mum was wearing a dress and high heels and they took their shoes off and slid down the deck.  Both have said they will never go on a cruise again."

The couple who have four children and three grandchildren told at the time of the ship tilting from one side to another and plates falling off tables and lights going out. They managed to grab a lifejacket, but said they had not been shown the evacuation procedure as the drill had been scheduled for later. 

Mr Rodford, a bathroom fitter and plasterer, said they had been forced to slide the width of the deck in order to reach lifeboats.

They then had to climb out of the first lifeboat and back up on to the ship's deck as it could not be lowered due to the angle at the time. 

He said the only people helping them get of the ship were those who served them at dinner and they didn't see any other crew members helping out. 

"Costa Cruises needs to suffer as we have - we almost lost our lives" - Mandy Rodford

Zoe said: "Mum said they were lucky to get out unharmed. She told me all she could think about was not see us or the grandchildren again."

Costa Cruises is said to have already offered 17,000 Euros to each of the 4,000 passengers and crew who were on board the Costa Concordia.

But many have slammed the offer as 'ridiculous' and are taking out individual compensation cases against Costa Cruises, which could end up costing the firm millions of pounds if they lose.

Schettino denies the charges and says he actually saved lives, insisting the ship struck rocks due to out-of-date charts given to him.

Italian prosecutors want him jailed for 20 years and the trial is not expected to end until 2016 at the earliest, with hundreds of people due to testify.

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