THE West Somerset Coroner has criticised restrictive health and safety laws in this country.

Speaking at the inquest of a diver from Fitzhead who died in the Bahamas, Michael Rose said people in the UK are rarely challenged enough.

Tuesday's hearing in Taunton was told that Joe Edward Garaway, 26, drowned off New Providence while free diving above a wreck in November 2005.

Mr Garaway, who was first mate on a yacht, was dropped off at a buoy above the wreck by a colleague on a jet ski.

The court heard he made several dives to depths of up to 33.5 metres, with the last taking one minute 44 seconds.

Details of his dives recorded on his watch showed he slowed ten metres from the surface as he came up on his last dive.

Mr Rose said: "There was no-one there to assist him and when he got to the surface he'd have been unconscious."

Mr Garaway's colleague later returned on the jet ski and found his body floating on the water.

Mr Rose recorded a verdict of accidental death, with the cause acute airway obstruction following drowning.

"Free diving to these depths is a dangerous past time and should be undertaken with people standing by," added Mr Rose, who said Mr Garaway died doing what he enjoyed.

"All too often, there isn't enough challenge for people in this country - everything is under health and safety.

"I don't think we'd have been the country we were if we'd have had health and safety one or two centuries ago."