London Port Authority and tugboat captain charged over Thames drowning

The Port of London Authority and a tugboat captain are facing criminal charges seven years after the Chiefton tug sank in the River Thames on August 12th, killing Darren Lacey, 40. The crew member drowned after the tug collided with the crane barge it was towing, causing the tug to capsize off Greenwich Pier. Two of his colleagues were rescued.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has charged the Port of London Authority (PoLA), which manages navigation on the river, with a health and safety breach. The MCA asserted that PoLA “failed to discharge the duty imposed upon it to ensure the health and safety of workers, including Darren Lacey”.

The owner of the tugboat, Palmers Marine Services Ltd, faces two health and safety charges, while the Chiefton’s master, Roy Goatham, 63, has been accused of misconduct amounting to a “breach or neglect of duty”.

Ravestein BV, which owned the 60-metre-long Skyline 19 crane barge has been accused of failure to ensure that a ship was operated in a safe manner.

The tug had been pulling the crane while another boat pushed at the rear, capsized just before 11:00 after unsuccessfully trying to dodge a buoy and then colliding with the much larger crane. Mr Goatham was one of the two men pulled from the water in the wake of the incident. Mr Lacey, whose body was found three days later, died by drowning. The case will appear before Snaresbrook Crown Court, where a full plea hearing is scheduled for December 11th.