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Boat owner to pay £20,000 after vessel collides with rocks

Ian Sullivan, 55, from Swindon, pleaded guilty to a failure to keep a proper lookout and failure to proceed at a safe speed under The Merchant Shipping (Distress Signals and Prevention of Collisions) Regulations 1996, in connection with the grounding of his vessel Sully in Totland Bay, Isle of Wight in September, 2022.

In addition to costs, Sullivan has been sentenced to 18 weeks in prison suspended for 12 months, and must complete 150 hours of unpaid work.

Three passengers on board the motorboat sustained serious injuries when the vessel collided with rocks at the shoreline, with one of the crew suffering life-changing injuries.

Several witnesses reported that the brightly lit motor cruiser crossed Totland Bay at speed on the night of 24 September and would have been unlikely to maintain a proper lookout. The vessel continued without deviating or slowing down before grounding on the shore at high speed. The incident sparked an extensive search and rescue response, involving HM Coastguard, the RNLI and police.

The grounding caused serious damage to the vessel, which has proved impossible to salvage and remains marooned high and dry on the shore.

During the sentencing His Honour Judge Newton-Price said Sullivan operated his boat in an unsafe manner and as a result caused his passengers significant injuries. Consumption of alcohol affected Sullivan’s judgement, he added.

Mark Cam, Senior Investigator with the MCA’s Regulatory Compliance Investigations Team (RCIT), said:

This result demonstrates that the MCA will always take appropriate and necessary action when a complete lack of compliance and disregard for the laws of the sea are shown; it compromises not only safety but ultimately the lives of many.

Mr Sullivan’s vessel was wrecked and three of his friends seriously injured. We want to send a clear message that such offences are not acceptable and those unwilling to follow rules and regulation and improve standards of safety will face the full weight of the law.

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