In a landmark case, Georgina Mortimer is taking legal action against Girls for Sail and the owner of the villa where she was staying, after she was raped during her Caribbean sailing holiday.
Georgina Mortimer, who has waived her right to anonymity, is taking both Girls for Sail and the owner of the villa where she was staying, and founder of the holiday company, Annie O’Sullivan to court.
She claims both of them are negligent after the A&E doctor was raped in the villa during the second night of her holiday at Rodney Bay, St Lucia.
Mortimer, from Hertfordshire, also claims that Girls for Sail offered her a “massage and a manicure” and a “complimentary day’s sailing” after she complained to the company, asking for a refund.
Her claims are strongly refuted by Girls for Sail founder, Annie O’Sullivan.
Speaking to the Sun on Sunday, Mortimer said: “I’d gone on a women only holiday to learn to sail believing I would be safe. I am devastated by what happened and I am going to do what I can to stop any other woman going through this.”
“I am shocked by a company, which claims to empower women by helping them learn to sail without men, has treated a rape victim so badly. My life has been turned upside down. I have horrendous flashbacks and feel traumatised,” said the 45-year-old.
“To be offered a massage and manicure is disgusting. When I complained again I was finally refunded my money. I was also offered a complimentary day’s sailing. It all belittled the nightmare I’d gone through,” she stated.
Mortimer, who spent £2,000 on her holiday in February 2016, said she wasn’t given a key for her bedroom door at the villa, which she shared with two instructors.
“I understood the front door would be locked each night,” she said.
Her attack lasted 15 minutes. The rapist fled after someone started knocking on her door.
The matter was reported to the police and Mortimer was taken to hospital for a medical examination.
Mortimer said there was no sign of a break-in and that “it appears he (the attacker) walked straight into the villa”.
She contacted the British Consulate, which arranged an emergency flight back to the UK.
Back home, Mortimer discovered that in the last year, there has been 60 cases of rape reported in St Lucia.
She feels that she should have been warned about the risks.
“I started to get angry. I had gone on a women only holiday, you have an expectation of safety,” she said.
“Because of the other incidents they should surely have upped security therefore the villa should have had CCTV and a security guard on duty. They should have at least had self locking doors and told us to be vigilant,” stressed Mortimer.
She has now employed a law firm to sue both Girls for Sail, which offers RYA training courses, and the owner of the villa, Annie O’Sullivan. Mortimer claims Girls for Sail failed to report the attack to the RYA.
In a statement, the law firm said: “This is a professional woman who was attacked in her own bed whilst away on holiday. Tour operators, hotel owners and others in the holiday business have a duty of care to protect their customers. Regulations, which include the Package Travel Regulations 1992, are in place to ensure consumers are protected and safe”.
If Mortimer wins her case, it could allow other holidaymakers to sue private accommodation providers.
On their website Girls for Sail states it maintains “a safe environment”.
The RYA, which had no involvement in the ownership or provision of the holiday accommodation in which the incident took place, said: “The RYA promotes boating as a positive recreational activity so we were naturally shocked and saddened to hear about the incident involving Dr Georgina.
“The incident did not take place during an RYA accredited training course. As this matter is now the subject of legal proceedings we are not in a position to discuss the incident further.”
Girls For Sail founder O’Sullivan, said: “We have been a TripAdvisor recommended 4.5 star villa since 2012 and strenuously dispute the claims made.”
Travel advice for St Lucia, issued by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, states that while most visits are trouble-free, there have been incidents of crime “including murder, armed robbery and sexual assault.
“You should maintain at least the same level of personal security awareness as you would in the UK and make sure your accommodation is secure. This also applies if you are staying on a yacht. Be vigilant at all times,” it states on its website.