Sheriff tells drunk captain: "You were out of your mind"

A ship’s captain who set sail after drinking 20 pints during a bender has been fined £2000.

Duncan MacNiven, who had recently spent two weeks at sea with trainee divers, was drinking at a pub in Oban, Argyll when news of a possible storm prompted him to set off early at 5:20am.

MacNiven was in charge of the 36ft diving support vessel the SD Moorfowl for six hours before a radio controller became concerned that he was drunk and alerted the authorities.

He was arrested and breathalysed after docking in Kyle of Lochalsh and found to be three times over the legal limit.

Appearing at Dingwall Sheriff Court, MacNiven, of Aultbea in the northern Highlands, admitted acting as master of a vessel while under the influence and was fined £2,000.

Sheriff Gordon Fleetwood told him: “You were drunk out of your mind. That’s the only way I can describe it.”

Defence lawyer David Sinclair said MacNiven had set sail early to avoid endangering the four-man crew in foul weather. He added: “To say he is contrite and deeply ashamed is not going far enough.”

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