Home news Cheeki Rafiki deaths: Yacht firm boss guilty of safety breach

Cheeki Rafiki deaths: Yacht firm boss guilty of safety breach


The head of a yacht firm has been found guilty of failing to ensure the safety of a yacht which capsized in the Atlantic with the loss of four lives.Douglas Innes had been responsible for the Cheeki Rafiki, which lost its keel 700 miles off Nova Scotia in May 2014.His company Stormforce Coaching was also convicted of the same charge.The jury at Winchester Crown Court was unable to reach verdicts on four manslaughter charges against Innes and was discharged.The jury reached majority verdicts of 10-1 on the safety charges.

Andrew Bridge, 22, from Farnham in Surrey, James Male, 22, from Southampton, Steve Warren, 52, and Paul Goslin, 56, both from Somerset, had been returning the 40ft (12m) vessel to Southampton from Antigua Sailing Week when it capsized.The US Coastguard was criticised for calling off its search for the stricken vessel after two days, but it was restarted after intervention by the British government.The vessel was eventually found with the life raft but no sign of the four men. Their bodies have never been found.During the trial, Innes, 42, of Whitworth Crescent, Southampton, was accused of cost cutting and failing to get the vessel checked before the voyage.Prosecutor Nigel Lickley QC told jurors the yacht had been given a “category two” code, which meant it was only authorised to be used commercially up to 60 miles away from a “safe haven”, and the code certificate had expired shortly before the tragedy.The court also heard the vessel, which had grounded three times in three years, had an undetected fault with the bolts which held the keel to the hull.Jurors were told that when Innes was contacted by Mr Bridge informing him there was a problem on board.Innes, who was in a pub at the time, did not call the coastguard but instead went to another pub where Mr Bridge phoned him to say the situation had worsened.Innes returned home, called the coastguard and emailed the crew suggesting they check the bolts of the keel.Mr Lickley said it later emerged that some of the bolts had been broken “for some time” before the yacht left the UK in October.
Source: BBC Somerset