The family of an ex-SAS man who was killed when he ejected from a civilian training plane on to a motorway was awarded £246,500 agreed High Court damages today.

Gary Clark was 45 when he died on the M11, near Duxford airfield, Cambridgeshire, in June 2002.

He left a widow, Tina, now 35, and three children, James, 11, Katerina, nine, and Jessica, four.

Mr Clark, who ran a recruitment business, was learning to fly an Aero Vodochody L-39C Albatross aircraft (L-39), when he and his instructor, Andrew Gent, approached Duxford to refuel before returning to North Weald.

It was claimed that on landing, Mr Clark attempted to apply the brakes but was unable to do so, as was Mr Gent when he took control.

The aircraft penetrated the airfield's perimeter fence and ran down the embankment of the M11, crossed the northbound carriageway and the central reservation and came to rest on the southbound carriageway.

At the time it penetrated the perimeter fence, Mr Clark ejected and struck the ground on the other side of the motorway before his parachute deployed.

He sustained injuries from which he died very shortly after, while Mr Gent was uninjured.

The family's counsel, Anthony Scrivener QC, told Mr Justice Underhill in London that Mr Gent, of High Wycombe, Bucks, aircraft owners Rocketseat Ltd, of Hailsham, Rocketseat chief pilot Phillip Greenhalgh, and Rocketseat director David Hayes, of Northiam, Rye, denied liability.

If the case had gone to trial, there would have been issues about why the brakes failed, why the emergency brake was not deployed, why Mr Clark used the ejector seat when he plainly should not have and whether the plane landed too far down the runway.

Lawyers had taken the view that it was a "win or lose" case, with significant difficulties, and the settlement represented about a third of the full value of the claim.

The judge approved the apportionment of £5,000 to each child with the balance going to Mrs Clark, who has remarried, to be used for their education.

He told Mrs Clark: "I think you have been well advised and in these very unhappy circumstances I am sure this is a good outcome for you and the children.

"I hope things go well for you in the future."

Afterwards, Mrs Clark, of Pinegrove, Brookmans Park, Herts, said: "I'm very pleased it's all over. I can now start sleeping at night again."

She said that she had staked everything she had on winning.

"I knew we would lose everything if I lost. I was doing it for the children. I couldn't walk away."