Dutch skipper, Christiaan Woestenburg "jumped intentionally" from the mast of his yacht to his death, an inquest jury has found. Cocaine, worth millions, was later found onboard.
An inquest jury has ruled that sailor Christiaan Woestenburg “jumped intentionally” from the mast of his yacht with the purpose of committing suicide.
Woestenburg, who was a Dutch national, had been boarded by UK Border Force officers at St Mary’s on the Isles of Scilly when he climbed the mast.
He leapt from the structure, falling 30-feet and landing on the granite quayside.
Earlier, the jury had heard from witness Ryan Sloan, who recorded video footage of Woestenburg climbing up the mast.
He said it looked as though Woestenburg was trying to “take his own life”.
“The man jumped intentionally from the mast because I saw him kick deliberately away from it,” said Sloan.
CCTV footage from St Mary’s Harbour also showed Woestenburg, 62, leaping from the mast.
Following the incident on 17 June 2013, Woestenburg’s yacht, Windrose, was towed to Newlyn Harbour in Cornwall.
The inquest heard that 124 packets of cocaine, with an estimated value of up to £18 million, were discovered in the yacht’s freshwater tank following a search by UK Border Force officers.
Woestenburg was on passage from Brazil to The Netherlands when he was towed to the Isle of Scilly by the crew of the St Mary’s lifeboat.
The skipper had been in contact with the RNLI because of concerns about the stability of his mast as a result of rigging failure.
Following the four-day inquest hearing, the coroner recorded a verdict of suicide.
A jury inquest into the death of Dutch sailor, Christiaan Woestenburg has heard how cocaine, worth millions of pounds, was discovered on board the 62-year-old’s yacht.
The skipper was seen “deliberately” jumping from the mast after the vessel was boarded by UK Border Force officers on 17 June 2013.
Woestenburg sustained fatal injuries after falling 30-feet and hitting the quay at St Mary’s, Isle of Scilly.
His yacht, Windrose, was moored there after being towed by the St Mary’s Lifeboat while Woestenburg was on passage to The Netherlands from Brazil.
He had contacted the RNLI crew worried that his mast was about to collapse because of rigging failure.
The inquest heard that 124 packets of cocaine were discovered in the freshwater tank of Windrose following a search by officers.
The 124kg of the class A drug had estimated wholesale and ‘street’ values of between £8 million and £18 million, according to the evidence given by Border Force officer, Mark Chapman.
The inquest continues.
Experienced Dutch sailor, Christiaan Woestenburg leapt to his death from the mast of his yacht, after he was boarded by Border Force officers, a jury inquest has heard.
The 62-year-old was suspected of smuggling cocaine. He was fatally injured after jumping from the mast onto the granite quay at St Mary’s, Isles of Scilly on 17 June 2013.
At the time, Border Force officers were searching Woestenburg’s yacht, Windrose.
The sailor was making passage from Brazil to The Netherlands when he was forced to call the crew of the RNLI St Mary’s lifeboat.
He told them he was suffering from fatigue and was worried that his mast was about to collapse because of rigging failure.
The yacht was towed into St Mary’s, where it was moored at the quay before being boarded by officers.
The inquest in Plymouth heard from Ryan Sloan, who was on board his boat at the time of the incident.
Sloan recorded video footage of Woestenburg climbing up Windrose’s mast, which was shown to the jury.
In a statement, Sloan said it looked as though Woestenburg was trying to “take his own life”.
“The man jumped intentionally from the mast because I saw him kick deliberately away from it,” he said.
CCTV footage from St Mary’s Harbour also showed Woestenburg leaping from the mast
The sailor was airlifted to the Royal Cornwall Hospital at Treliske in Truro, but was pronounced dead later the same day.
He died of head, chest and pelvic injuries.
The jury also heard evidence from the Isle of Scilly’s neighbourhood beat manager, PC Matthew Collier, who attended the scene of the accident.
He said the four Boarder Force officers had told him that they were searching the boat when Woestenburg said he needed to get hydraulic equipment to open a sealed compartment.
The Dutchman then left the cockpit and began climbing the mast, before he “dived for the quay”.
The Windrose was later towed to Newlyn Harbour, where it was thoroughly searched. More than 100 packets of class A drugs were discovered.
Members of the inquest jury were shown police pictures of the plastic packets contained the drugs, which were found in the yacht’s water tank under the cockpit floor.
Woestenburg’s brother, Otto, told the hearing that his brother bought and sold boats for a living, and that Woestenburg was an experienced sailor.
He said he had spoken to his brother after he was towed to St Mary’s harbour, and that Christiaan had said he would repair the boat before sailing onto The Netherlands.
Otto also said that he “could not believe” that his brother was smuggling drugs as he was “anti-drugs”.
The inquest continues.
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