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Skipper fined £5k after crash sinks boat

A skipper has been fined more than £5,000 after his fishing vessel sank another boat that went down so quickly the crew didn't have time to put on their lifejackets.

Malcolm Edmund, who is skipper of the Sapphire Stone, was charged following a collision with the Karen, causing its loss.

On January 22, 2014, the Karen was coming to the end of a four-hour tow to the south east of the Isle of Arran, when she was struck astern by the Sapphire Stone.

Skipper of the Karen, John Muir, said she went down by the stern so quickly that the crew did not have time to get their lifejackets from the cabin.

The crew managed to launch the life raft but in the choppy seas it overturned and all three found themselves in the water. Mr Muir managed to right the raft and they all got in.

Meanwhile, the Sapphire Stone had managed to get alongside the life raft and recovered all the men safely onboard. During an investigation by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, it transpired that one of the crew employed onboard the Sapphire Stone had not completed the required safety training courses and that Edmund had been issued with an improvement notice for a similar offence.

Yesterday, at Newtownards Magistrates Court, Edmund pleaded guilty to three charges - failing to keep a proper lookout, causing the loss of the fishing vessel Karen and breaching the Fishing Vessel Safety Training Regulations.

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The judge, Mark Hamill, said that the case came down to Edmund not looking where he was going. He fined him £5,500.

Captain Bill Bennett, surveyor in charge of the Belfast Marine Office said: "This very serious accident caused the loss of a vessel. It could very easily have resulted in loss of life. Skippers are reminded of the need to keep a lookout at all times."

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