A barrister killed in a jet skiing accident in Dubai was not issued with a helmet or given any detailed instructions on how to drive it, an inquest heard.

“If she was wearing a helmet, I think she would have survived,” Michaela Danso’s husband Joseph told the court.

But a senior coroner said he could take no action over the alleged safety failures as the incident happened outside his jurisdiction of England and Wales.

Mrs Danso, of Hilldrop Crescent in Holloway, Camden, died on Christmas Day 2022 when a jet ski she had rented crashed into the sea wall in Beach Resort Dubai.

She was “catapulted” from the craft and landed head first on the concrete embankment.

Graeme Irvine, senior coroner for east London, said the authorities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) had failed to hand over a single piece of evidence concerning her death.

Mr Irvine said he had asked, through the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), for documents from the police investigation, the ambulance service and a post-mortem examination.

But none were ever handed over, meaning he had to order a second autopsy – whose conclusions contradicted the cause of death given by the Dubai police.

A certificate issued by the Dubai police, handed to the undertakers who repatriated Mrs Danso’s body, claimed a fractured neck had caused respiratory failure.

It was the only UAE document the family or the coroner ever received.

The post-mortem ordered by Mr Irvine, carried out in East Ham on January 11, 2023, found no neck fracture, giving Mrs Danso’s cause of death as a severe head injury caused by blunt force trauma.

An inquest into Michaela Danso’s death was held at Waltham Forest Town Hall on Tuesday, June 11An inquest into Michaela Danso’s death was held at Waltham Forest Town Hall on Tuesday, June 11 (Image: Charles Thomson)

Mr Irvine said he had asked the FCDO to “exert diplomatic power to try to get hold of evidence”.

“Not that long ago, the Foreign Office had quite significant sway in acquiring evidence,” he told the court, at Waltham Forest Town Hall.

“Unfortunately, it seems that that has diminished considerably over the years.”

He told Mrs Danso’s family that the evidence in her case was therefore “very, very short”, totalling just 16 pages.

Those 16 pages included her British GP records, which contained no relevant information.

Speaking to the Ham&High outside the hearing, Mrs Danso’s family expressed anger and disappointment at the UAE’s refusal to supply evidence.

“It’s appalling,” said Mrs Danso’s sister, Julie Adams. “It could happen to somebody else.

“They are just covering up. While they are not playing ball and being co-operative, they are just allowing the companies to continue.”

Teacher Joseph Danso, who witnessed his wife’s death, said after the inquest that he had since been contacted by a local boy who claimed the company owner was prosecuted – but he had never had it officially verified.

“I don’t want to hear anything from that country again,” he said.

“I think that they should be held responsible. The lack of co-operation from their end led to today’s conclusion.”

Mrs Danso, a former criminal barrister who transitioned into family law, was described in court as “a lovely, bubbly person who lived live to the fullest”.

Mr Danso testified that she had booked one jet ski for them both, expecting that he would pilot it and she would sit on the back.

But when they arrived, the operator told them they would not fit on one and would have to each rent separate ones.

Michaela Danso and her husband Joseph were on holiday in Dubai in December 2022 when they decided to hire a jet skiMichaela Danso and her husband Joseph were on holiday in Dubai in December 2022 when they decided to hire a jet ski (Image: Joseph Danso)

Mr Danso said it was one of many “small companies” dotted around the beach, each renting a handful of jet skis.

“I suspect that the boy wanted to rent two bikes to make more money for the boss,” he said, claiming he had researched online and believed he and his wife could have shared one jet-ski.

“It was just a ploy,” added Mrs Danso’s sister.

The company name was never given in court.

“She was left, at short notice, with the prospect of piloting a powerful piece of marine equipment,” Mr Irvine found.

When his wife got on the jet ski, said Mr Danso, the boy even warned her about its speed.

“I think the boy was just saying for fun, ‘Your bike is really, really fast,” he said.

“At that point she panicked. She said, ‘Let my husband take mine and I will take his’. The boy said, ‘Oh, you will be fine’.”

The court heard that Mrs Danso almost immediately lost control of the jet ski and crashed.  

Mr Danso said that it was then around an hour before an ambulance attended.

“This was a very tragic accident that could have easily been prevented – especially given that she never intended to drive the jet ski. She was a person who always was very risk averse,” he said outside court.

“The kind of basic precautions you would have thought would be in place were not there. Even first aid.”

By the time the ambulance arrived, Mr Danso said, his wife was already dead.

Grief-stricken, he said he was placed in the back of a police van, “where they keep criminals”.

“At that point, I didn’t know what to do,” he said. “I was screaming. They were telling me to shut up.”

Mr Irvine reached a conclusion of accidental death, but added: “If I were provided with evidence like this about a death in the UK, I would be writing a preventing future deaths report.

“I would be asking about the training and safety procedures in the rental company. I would be asking them about the safety equipment that is issued to users of jet skis. I would be asking the local authority about what steps they take to licence the proprietors.”

“Unfortunately, I can’t do that, because it’s outside of this court’s jurisdiction,” he said. “I make it abundantly clear that if it were not, that’s what I would be doing.”

But, he told Mr Danso: “If further and better particulars arrived from the UAE, which put a different slant on the evidence in this inquest, I would be more than happy to apply to reopen this inquest.”