Douglas Innes, director of Stormforce Coaching Limited, has been given a suspended jail sentence over failing to ensure the safety of four sailors who died when the Cheeki Rafiki capsized in the Atlantic in 2014
Douglas Innes has been given a suspended jail sentence.
The director of Stormforce Coaching Limited was given a 15-month jail term, suspended for two years, for failing to ensure the safety of Andrew Bridge, 22, James Male, 22, Steve Warren, 52, and Paul Goslin, 56 who all lost their lives when Cheeki Rafiki capsized in the Atlantic in May 2014.
The 43-year-old’s company, Stormforce Coaching Limited – which has gone into liquidation – was fined £50,000.
Director of Stormforce Coaching Limited, Douglas Innes, 43, was cleared of the manslaughter of the four sailor during a retrial at the end of last April. However, he and his company were convicted of failing to operate the yacht in a safe manner contrary to section 100 of the Merchant Shipping Act during the first trial, which took place in July 2017.
Innes and Stormforce Coaching Limited were sentenced at Winchester Crown Court.
Director of Stormforce Coaching Limited, Douglas Innes, has been cleared of the manslaughter of the four men on board Cheeki Rafiki, who lost their lives when the 40ft yacht capsized in the Atlantic.
Douglas Innes, 43, was acquitted of four counts of manslaughter by gross negligence following a retrial at Winchester Crown Court.
The jury had been deliberating at the retrial for 23 hours and 25 minutes.
Cheeki Rafiki lost its keel and capsized more than 700 miles off the coast of Nova Scotia in May 2014. All four crew members on board were lost at sea.
Innes, and his company Stormforce Coaching Limited, will be sentenced on 11 May after being convicted at the first trial of failing to operate the yacht in a safe manner contrary to section 100 Merchant Shipping Act.
Stormforce Coaching Limited director Douglas Innes told the jury that Cheeki Rafiki was regularly checked before the accident happened. Innes is on trial on charges of manslaughter after four sailors lost their lives when Cheeki Rafiki capsized in May 2014
Innes, 43, told Winchester Crown Court how yacht Cheeki Rafiki was ‘regularly maintained’ ahead of the fatal accident in which Andrew Bridge, 22, James Male, 22, Steve Warren, 52, and Paul Goslin, 56 all lost their lives.
Prosecutor Nigel Lickley QC said Mr Innes had failed to do the appropriate checks and the “unsafe” boat had been neglected for several years.
Innes said that Cheeki Rafiki was inspected regularly and there was no evidence of keel damage.
He added that the Beneteau 40.7 was taken out of the water for about five months for its hull to be repainted in 2013, saying: “If the boat is out of the water for that period of time, I would have inspected it myself as well.”
The Stormforce Coaching Limited director said he only found out about the damage that Cheeki Rafiki had suffered because of two previous groundings after the accident and once the trail had started.
Winchester Crown Court was told by Prosecutor Nigel Lickley QC that Douglas Innes, 43, received an initial email from the Cheeki Rafiki crew, headed “Urgent”. The crew were concerned that the Cheeki Rafiki was taking on water and asked for advice.
Innes, of Whitworth Crescent in Southampton, received the email whilst out drinking in a pub. He told the crew to make sure the life raft was ready to be deployed.
Douglas Innes did not report the situation to the UK Coastguard but instead carried on drinking. He only alerted the Coastguard later once he got home but didn’t report it as urgent.
Prosecutor Nigel Lickley told the court: “Despite that and what was happening at sea, he didn’t call the UK Coastguard to alert them of the situation at that time, but he went to another pub nearer to his home and carried on drinking,”.
Andrew Bridge, 22, James Male, 22, Steve Warren, 52, and Paul Goslin, 56 all lost their lives when the Cheeki Rafiki, a Beneteau 40.7, lost its keel and capsized on a return trip from Antigua Sailing Week to Southampton in May 2014. Their bodies have never been found.
27 February 2018
Douglas Innes will face trial at Winchester Crown Court over four counts of manslaughter.
Andrew Bridge, 22, James Male, 22, Steve Warren, 52, and Paul Goslin, 56 all lost their lives when the Beneteau 40.7 lost its keel and capsized on a return trip from Antigua Sailing Week to Southampton in May 2014. Their bodies have never been found.
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