The owner of the Eshcol, Timothy Bowman-Davies, from Milford Haven, is starting a 15 month sentence after two crew died on board the fishing vessel as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning

The skipper of the Eshcol, Mark Arries, and crew member Edward Ide died of carbon monoxide poisoning while they slept on board the fishing boat in January 2014.

Yesterday (2 August), the boat’s owner, Timothy Bowman-Davies, 45, from Milford Haven was jailed for 15 months in jail at Leeds Crown Court.

He had pleaded guilty to two charges brought by the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) for the unsafe operation of a fishing vessel and failing to ensure that the gas cooker was properly maintained.

He claimed that he was unaware of the risk of carbon monoxide on boats and did not realise he needed to have the cooker serviced.

The court heard that Arries and Ide, along with a third crew member, were on board the Eshcol, when it arrived in Whitby in the early morning of 14 January 2014 to discharge her catch of scallops.

Bowman-Davies collected the catch that evening and dropped off stores for the Eshcol and two other boats owned by him before heading home.

The third crew member of the Eshcol headed off to his girlfriend’s house for the night with the permission of the skipper

Arries and Ide spent the rest of the night on-board the Eshcol. It is believed they had lit the gas cooker to keep warm.

A gas cooker on board a boat

The gas cooker which had never been serviced. Credit: MCA

The following morning no movement was seen on the Eshcol.

Crewmen on the other vessels nearby became concerned, and two of them broke into the wheelhouse/cabin of the Eshcol and discovered the bodies of Arries and Ide.

The Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) fired cooker was seen to be lit when they entered.

The emergency services were called.

Tragically, Arries and Ide were pronounced dead at the scene.

A post-mortem exmination showed they died as the result of carbon monoxide poisoning.

The Eshcol was not fitted with a carbon monoxide detector and the LPG Cooker was subsequently shown to be defective. It had not been serviced or examined by a GAS SAFE engineer.

The Eshcol was subsequently inspected by the MCA and detained with 34 deficiencies.

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In defence, Bowman-Davies argued that he didn’t realise the gas cooker needed servicing and stated his was unaware of the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning on board boats.

In passing sentence, HHJ Tom Bayliss QC said: “Those who employ others and whose actions create a risk of harm must take the consequences when harm results, such as here. The least possible sentence I can impose, based on the mitigating factors, is 15 months in prison.”

He said that it was because the offences were so serious and that two men had died, he could impose a custodial sentence.

Speaking following sentencing, the MCA’s fishing vessel policy manager, David Fenner said it was strongly recommended that carbon monoxide (CO) alarms are installed in every enclosed space that contains a fired cooking or heating appliance and where an engine exhaust penetrates through the wheelhouse or crew space.

Fired appliances apply to, but may not be limited to, appliances fired by LPG, diesel or paraffin.

“This recommendation is being taken forward as part of a wider package of safety measures for fishing vessels,” he said.

“It has been subject to extensive public consultation and will be implemented as soon as parliamentary time allows and it is our expectation that this will be early in the Autumn,” continued Fenner, adding: “I would also like to thank North Yorkshire Police for their help and assistance in bring this prosecution forward.”

The head of the MCA’s Enforcement Unit, Captain Jeremy Smart, said: “The risks from carbon monoxide are well known and that is why specific safety measures have to be taken.”

“Sadly, two people lost their lives in this case. We hope that this successful prosecution sends a strong message to the fishing community that unsafe practices will be taken seriously and action will be taken so more lives aren’t lost in the future.” he stressed.