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Court case warning for boat skippers

By Herald Express  |  Posted: October 08, 2012

TORBAY'S harbour chief has warned more prosecutions could follow if boat users fail to comply with sea safety rules.

Captain Kevin Mowat, executive head of Tor Bay Harbour Authority, has spoken out after a court case where a skipper crashed into and injured a kayaker.

Helmsman Anthony McCarthy, 31, of Sea View Terrace, Thurlestone, pleading guilty to navigation without due care and attention at Torquay Magistrates' Court after colliding with Nigel Hatton during a model powerboat race across the Bay. McCarthy was fined a total of £2,275.

Capt Mowat said: "This was a very serious incident. The canoeist was badly injured and the collision could easily have resulted in a fatality.

"Because of the severity of Mr Hatton's injuries and the fact this accident was clearly avoidable, it was obviously in the public interest to bring this prosecution.

"It is important people in charge of boats understand the basic principles of good seamanship and navigation. The Collision Regulations are clear: you have to keep a good look out and watch where you are going. This is especially true when you are skippering a craft capable of injuring someone and/or damaging property.

"I would urge everyone who owns or skippers a boat to get properly trained and if they haven't received any training they should never assume they have the right level of knowledge. In my experience it is often those who have been around boats all their lives who fail to understand the most basic rules of navigation."

Cllr Vic Ellery, chairman of the Tor Bay Harbour Committee said: "The Harbour Authority has a well established enforcement and prosecution policy and we will not hesitate to hold people to account if they endanger others and do not show the necessary level of care and attention.

"In this case the weather conditions were good, there were several people on the rigid hull inflatable boat and there can be no excuses for colliding with Mr Hatton's kayak ."

Mr McCarthy was ordered to pay a fine of £260, £15 victim surcharge and £2,000 in court costs.

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