A ship captain was sentenced on Friday to a three-year suspended prison sentence by the Marseille maritime court for negligence which led to the death of a British sailor. He was also fined 5,000 euros and permanently banned from sailing.
“I will never sleep peacefully again”
On May 25, 2019, in the bay of Cannes, the owner of the Vision, a 23.98 meter yacht, would have asked this captain to show the performance of his ship to “impress his friends by putting on a show for them”, explained the accused. It was as they were returning to port, during a maneuver consisting in going close-hauled to cause a strong wave, that the Vision collided with the bow of the Minx, the other boat with which they were passing the after -midday. Responsible for raising the anchor, the 28-year-old sailor was thrown and killed instantly. This maneuver had been carried out at a speed of twenty knots in an anchorage area where it is limited to five knots.
In court, the captain of the Vision, in tears, was very affected by this fault which he recognizes. “Let the family know that whatever the verdict, I will never sleep easy again and will always think of their son,” he said.
Now a mechanic, when “the sea was [s] for life”, the defendant confesses “a serious error”, but for his lawyers, Philippe Jacquemin and Fanny Lecadre, a malfunction in the piloting system cannot be excluded. “It is not to erase its responsibilities, pleaded Me Jacquemin, but something else was combined with the speed element”. An expert report ordered by the examining magistrate ruled out any technical malfunction.
“Under the influence of the owner”
Prosecutor Michel Sastre had requested three years in prison suspended and a fine of 10,000 euros. “He was under the influence of the owner, he did not decide on his own, we had to impress the gallery, show that we had a beautiful boat”, declared the magistrate, anxious “not to add to it” while the defendant is “overwhelmed”.
Composed of three magistrates and two maritime professionals, the maritime court of Marseille has jurisdiction over French Mediterranean territorial waters, including Corsica. He ordered the publication of the judgment for fifteen days on the home page of one of the main yachting sites.