Belfast Telegraph

Home News UK

Jury discharged after failing to reach verdicts on Cheeki Rafiki death charges

Four crewmembers died last year in the Atlantic.

A jury trying a company boss over the deaths of four people on board the Cheeki Rafiki yacht has been discharged after failing to reach verdicts on manslaughter charges.

Douglas Innes was convicted of failing to ensure the safety of the vessel.

bpanews_8f069536-9696-4f82-a74b-9551ead7f19f_embedded727790
Douglas Innes faced trial over the death of four crew members of the Cheeki Rafiki yacht (PA)

But trial judge Mr Justice Dingemans discharged the jurors at Winchester Crown Court after they were unable to reach a decision on the four manslaughter allegations, which they had been deliberating over since Tuesday lunchtime.

Innes, 42, of Whitworth Crescent, Southampton, and his company, Stormforce Coaching Limited, were convicted of failing to operate the yacht in a safe manner, contrary to Section 100 of the Merchant Shipping Act.

Innes, a married father-of-two, showed no emotion as the verdicts were announced.

bpanews_8f069536-9696-4f82-a74b-9551ead7f19f_embedded727800
Paul Goslin and James Male (Royal Yachting Association/PA)

Nigel Lickley QC, prosecuting, said they would be seeking a retrial on the four manslaughter charges and Mr Justice Dingemans released Innes on unconditional bail until a future hearing on a date to be set.

Thanking the jury, which deliberated for 21 hours, Mr Dingemans said: “I will discharge you from considering any more the verdicts in this case.

“May I thank-you very much for the sacrifices you have made, your prompt attendance and the diligence and care you have taken when considering this matter.”

bpanews_8f069536-9696-4f82-a74b-9551ead7f19f_embedded727810
Steve Warren and Andrew Bridge (Royal Yachting Association/PA)

The Cheeki Rafiki lost its keel as the crew were returning the 40ft yacht from Antigua to the UK in May 2014 when it got into trouble more than 700 miles from Nova Scotia.

The four crew members were skipper Andrew Bridge, 22, from Farnham in Surrey, James Male, 22, from Southampton, Steve Warren, 52, and Paul Goslin, 56, both from Somerset.

The US Coastguard was criticised for calling off its search after two days but after protests from family and friends and intervention by the British government, the search was re-started and the boat found – but without any sign of the four men.

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph