Belfast Telegraph

Drunken sailor almost collided with P&O ferry

By Nevin Farrell

An inebriated boatman swore at police after his vessel was almost smashed to pieces by a ferry in the early hours of the morning at one of Northern Ireland's busiest ports.

William James Sittlington (36), of Coastguard Road, Larne, had been sailing in the town's harbour around 12.30am on May 30 this year.

A prosecutor told Ballymena Magistrates Court that police received a report from the Coastguard that a "small vessel came close to colliding with a P&O ferry".

Officers located the defendant, who has a criminal record, standing in water mooring his craft at Ship Street beside the harbour.

He refused to come out of the water and "threatened" and swore at them. When he was searched a small amount of cannabis was found.

Defence solicitor Stewart Ballentine said it was a "somewhat unusual and surreal case".

The lawyer said Sittlington had been out with a few friends on his boat which the defendant, an engineer, had constructed himself.

"They were out for a sail," said the solicitor, who added that the incident with police happened as he was "coming in to berth".

"He was in the sea mooring it at the time, there was a verbal exchange," added Mr Ballentine.

The lawyer said his client was a member of a local boat club and was aware of safety issues at the harbour.

Mr Ballentine added that there had been no collision with the ferry. The solicitor said the defendant suffered from back pain and the cannabis was for his own use.

"He sobered up the next day and apologised to police and the captain," said Mr Ballentine.

The defendant had pleaded guilty to charges of disorderly behaviour and possession of cannabis and was given one year's probation.

District Judge Nigel Broderick said it was an unusual case, but that police called to the scene had just been doing their job.

"There was obviously some concern. No doubt the size of your vessel and the ferry may have placed you in jeopardy of being injured had there been a collision, and for whatever reason you took umbrage," he told the defendant.

Belfast Telegraph

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