Fishing boat skipper gets suspended sentence for running vessel aground

Fisherman Michael Kinnaird has been sentenced to four months in prison, suspended for two years, after pleading guilty to offences under the Merchant Shipping Act. He was also ordered to pay costs of £5,000 and £115 victim surcharge.

Kinnaird, who has more than 40 years’ fishing trawler experience, had pleaded guilty at Plymouth magistrates court on December 6th. On the evening of October 7th Kinnaird’s vessel, a 21metre trawler FV Algrie, with five crew on board left its moorings at Sutton Harbour, continued out of the harbour entrance and kept a steady course at seven knots before running aground at Mountbatten Breakwater. None of the crew was injured and there was no reported pollution as a result. The vessel suffered minor damage and it was recovered back to its moorings on the next high tide.

Kinnaird told MCA Enforcement Officers that had navigated into and out of the harbour hundreds of times, but on this occasion he had become confused when he saw lights from anglers who were fishing from the breakwater. He was asked why he didn’t reduce his speed or reverse, use his navigation aids or even his spot light but he could give no answer.

In passing sentence, District Judge Taylor said that alcohol did affect Mr Kinnaird’s actions that night and he didn’t accept his explanation about being confused by the lights on the breakwater.