Monday, February 22, 2010

Skippering while intoxicated

Almost sounds like Gilligan's Island doesn't it.

Except, of course, only if most of the passengers, on the three hour tour, were killed when the shipwreck occurred.

Harbour fatal boat crash: skipper gave drunk control, court told

Sydney - An intoxicated skipper accused of the manslaughter of six boat passengers handed over the vessel's steering to an unlicensed passenger affected by drugs and alcohol, a Sydney jury has been told.

In his opening address today, Crown prosecutor Mark Hobart, SC, said the skipper also failed to supervise the passenger and failed to keep a proper lookout.

Matthew Norman Reynolds, 32, of Tweed Heads, in northern NSW, has pleaded not guilty in the NSW Supreme Court to six counts of manslaughter.

Sydney man Percy Small, 24, has pleaded not guilty to six counts of dangerous navigation causing death.
Mr Reynolds faces alternative charges to the manslaughter counts of aiding and abetting Mr Small in his dangerous navigation causing death.

Mr Hobart told the jury the Crown contended that Mr Small was behind the wheel of the boat when it collided with a fishing trawler in Sydney Harbour about 2.30am on May 1, 2008.

Six of the 14 people on board the boat died - Ashlei Ayres, 32; Alexander Rumiz, 22; Jessica Holloway, 25; Elisabeth Holder, 20; Stacey Wright, 21; and Alex Nikakis, 30.

Mr Hobart said the boat was licensed to carry eight people.

The prosecutor said all of the passengers on the boat were affected to some extent by alcohol and or drugs, having earlier been at a party at Balmain.

Before the collision, Mr Hobart alleged, Mr Reynolds had handed over the steering to Mr Small.

"The Crown says Mr Small was so intoxicated that it would have been obvious to Mr Reynolds, except for one thing: Mr Reynolds himself was intoxicated," Mr Hobart said.

"He had alcohol in his system and he also had cocaine in his system."

The trial is continuing before Justice Michael Grove.