AN instructor in charge of a scuba diver who died after getting into difficulties in a flooded quarry has told an inquest that he also encountered problems.

Graham Rowntree, who was leading James Askew, 35, his father and another diver in a deep dive course at the National Diving Centre, in Stoney Cove, Leicestershire, told Leicester Coroner’s Court that he had been forced to make a quick ascent to the surface after experiencing problems.

Mr Rowntree, who had set up the Olympic Scuba diving school in Durham in December 2008 only weeks before the incident, told the inquest what happened after he realised there was a problem with Mr Askew.

He said the group had descended to about 23 metres and received the OK signal from all of the divers, before heading to the floor of the 35 metre deep quarry.

When he arrived at the bottom, he said there was no sign of either of the Askews, although the fourth diver was with him.

Mr Askew’s father, also called James, then appeared shortly afterwards, Mr Rowntree said.

He signalled to Mr Rowntree that all was OK and that his son had returned to the surface, Mr Rowntree told the inquest.

Almost immediately Mr Rowntree suffered a “freeflow” – a problem with his breathing apparatus, he told the inquest.

After returning to the surface and changing his tank, Mr Rowntree returned to the bottom, where he found Mr Askew lying on his back.

He said he put him into an inverted position on finding him and attempted to take him to the surface before being assisted by other divers.

Mr Askew, of Stockton, was taken by air ambulance to Walsgrave Hospital, in Coventry, where he was later pronounced dead.

Earlier in the hearing, Mr Askew senior said he had released some air to help him descend, but saw his son was not making any effort to follow him and said James had signalled he intended to go back to the surface.

He only realised his son was missing when he got to the surface and heard Mr Rowntree shouting: “Where’s your son ? Where’s James?”

The inquest continues and is due to finish today.