Skipper jailed after near-miss which claimed three lives

David Marr from Aberdeenshire was not paying 'sufficient attention' during the incident in 2017.

Skipper jailed after near-miss which claimed three lives Google Maps

A boat skipper has been jailed following a near-miss at sea in which three men drowned.

David Marr, 55, was in charge of the Vertrouwen vessel during the incident off the coast of West Sussex in 2017.

Prosecutors said he had not been paying sufficient attention or he would have seen men aboard another boat “frantically signalling to him in a bid to avert disaster”.

Just after midnight on August 6, 2017, the Vertrouwen passed extremely close to the James 2 vessel, which was swamped and sank.

Romanian nationals Mercea (Mitch) Ilea, 40, Irinel Popovici, 41, and Treaiam Dumitrache, 50, were aboard the James 2 and drowned.

The fourth man on board, Elvis Cojocariu, was found the next morning suffering from hypothermia.

He told the trial that he and his colleagues saw the Vertrouwen from about a kilometre away and all four men had been signalling “like mad” before the collision.

Despite this, the Vertrouwen carried on in the same direction at the same speed and their boat was swamped by waves, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said.

He described having a clear view of the Vertrouwen’s deck as she passed by and that he couldn’t see anyone there.

Marr was found guilty on Friday of failing to maintain a proper lookout, contrary to regulations four and six of the Merchant Shipping (Distress Signals and Prevention of Collisions Regulations) 1996, following a trial at Brighton Crown Court.

Marr, of Towerhill in Peterhead, Aberdeenshire, was jailed for 12 months.

Libby Clark, from the CPS, said: “It was our case that David Marr had not been paying sufficient attention, if any, when he was on watch.

“Had he done so, he would have seen the men, who were frantically signalling to him in a bid to avert disaster.

“Instead of constantly checking to ensure he knew what was out there, it appears he was doing other things and, even after his actions caused the James 2 to sink, he continued to sail on, oblivious to the fact that a boat was sinking and that three men would lose their lives as a result of his not keeping a proper lookout.

“The evidence showed that he would have been able to see the lights on the boat for six minutes before the near-miss, yet he continued to sail directly towards the boat with tragic consequences.

“It was not unusual for small fishing boats, like the James 2, to be in this area and the defendant should have been alert to that, and David Marr should have been using every means available to him, as required by maritime regulations, to establish what, if anything, might be in the sea ahead.”

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