Michael Kinnaird, a fisherman with 40 years experience has been sentenced to four months in prison, suspended for two years after pleading guilty

Fishing boat skipper Michael Kinnaird has pleaded guilty to offences under the Merchant Shipping Act and received a suspended sentence at Plymouth magistrates’ court on 6 December after running his vessel aground off Plymouth.

The incident occurred on 7 October 2017 shortly after 8.45pm when Mr Kinnaird’s vessel, a 21 metre trawler FV Algrie ran aground at Mountbatten Breakwater.

According to the HM Coastguard report, the vessel left its moorings at Sutton Harbour and continued out of the harbour entrance but did not alter course into the shipping channel. Instead, the vessel kept a steady course at seven knots before running aground.

Mr Kinnaird, a fisherman with over 40 years’ experience, claimed he was confused by the lights from anglers who were fishing from the breakwater. When interviewed by MCA Enforcement Officers, Kinnaird was asked why he didn’t reduce his speed or reverse, use his navigation aids or his spotlight but gave no answer.

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Mr. Kinnaird was sentenced to four months imprisonment, which has been suspended for two years. He was also ordered to pay costs of £5,000 and £115 victim surcharge.

In passing sentence, District Judge Taylor said that alcohol did affect Mr Kinnaird’s actions that night and he didn’t accept his explanation about being confused by the lights on the breakwater.

No one was hurt during the incident. The trawler suffered minor damage and was recovered on the next high tide.

Ian Blair, technical manager from the Maritime & Coastguard Agency’s marine office at Plymouth said: “Preparing a comprehensive passage plan and maintaining a safe and proper navigational watch at all times, by use of all available means, is of paramount importance in order to prevent incidents such as this from occurring.”