French ski guides plead guilty to causing British banker’s death

Two mountain guides have pleaded guilty to causing the death of a British banker after an off-piste expedition in the Italian Alps turned to disaster.

Graeme Porteous, a millionaire investment banker and close friend of the former England rugby star Lawrence Dallaglio, was killed when fresh snow turned to liquid beneath him, sweeping him 30 metres down a mountain.

During a trip to the north west Italy in February 2015 Mr Porteous and two friends had employed French ski guides Matthieu Desprat and Bruno Roche to take them off piste.

But the party ventured into a gully filled with knee deep snow which gave way beneath them, sweeping Mr Porteous away and smashing him into a tree.

Although he had managed to inflate his avalanche airbag to stop himself being buried in the snow – and even managed to joke with the friends who rushed to his aid – he lost consciousness moments later and died as an Alpine rescue team transported him down the mountain.

Desprat and Roche have now pleaded guilty in an Italian court to charges of manslaughter and causing the disaster.

The pair were handed a 10-month suspended sentence by the court in Cuneo as part of a plea bargain deal which will see the family of Mr Porteous paid an undisclosed amount in compensation.

The deal, agreed in a closed-door hearing held on March 23 before Judge Elisabetta Meinardi, can only now be reported for legal reasons.

Before his death Mr Porteous, a married father of three from south west London, worked for JP Morgan and UBS banks and the energy and commodities traders Vitol.

The 48-year-old had hired M. Desprat and M. Roche to guide him and his friends safely through the slopes of Bosco Castello, in Argentera, a day after a huge snowfall led to the closure of ski runs to the public.

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