TECHNOLOGY

Skipper, who sent texts when his ship hit a fishing boat, is brought to trial again


Skipper David Marr, 53, on March 7 this year. Marr faced a five-day trial at Lewes Crown Court last week

A skipper who is said to have been distracted by social media when his trawler sank a tiny fishing boat and the three fishermen died aboard is facing renewed trial after a jury made no judgment today.

David Marr was accused of sending WhatsApp messages to a friend when his excavator landed on the smaller boat.

When the four anglers on board the fishing boat noticed that they were about to hit, they signaled desperately, shouting and waving torches.

At the last second, they put their boat, the James 2, at full throttle to escape the much larger ship – a commercial scallop excavator.

The boats narrowly missed each other in the dark, but a large wave flooded the smaller boat and quickly lowered it.

The four anglers – Mircea Ilie (40), Irinel Popovici (41), Traiam Dumitrache (50) and Elvis Cojocariu (all Romanians) – jumped into the sea when their fiberglass boat sank and tried to swim safely.

But none of the men who had drunk a small amount of whiskey wore a life jacket. All but one drowned at sea.

Marr faced a five-day trial at Lewes Crown Court last week for not looking out for the trawler.

Mircea Ilie, 40

Irinel Popovici, 41

Mircea Ilie (left) (40) and Irinel Popovici (right) (41) jumped into the sea as their fiberglass boat sank and tried to swim to safety. But neither wore a life jacket and both died

The jury heard that on the night of August 6, 2017, Marr was the only lookout on the Vertrouwen when she was steaming in front of the Shoreham harbor in East Sussex.

At 12.21 p.m. he sent a funny WhatsApp message to a skipper fishing in Scottish waters at 12.21 p.m.

At 12.25 p.m. the Vertrouwen came "very close" to a small fishing boat, causing it to be flooded with sea water.

A second wave hit, listing the fiberglass boat and then starting to sink.

Only Mr. Cojocariu, 45, an electrician from London, survived after swimming four hours and almost a mile and a half back to the shore.

He was picked up by a fisherman who was checking his nets. Mr. Cojocariu was exhausted and had hypothermia and was taken to the hospital. The other three anglers drowned.

Marr only found out hours later when he heard about the fatal incident on the radio.

The 53-year-old is now facing the prospect of a new lawsuit after a jury at Lewes Crown Court in East Sussex failed to judge the allegation that he had not given a proper lookout aboard the commercial trawler, Vertrouwen.

Traiam Dumitrache, 50

Elvis Cojocariu, 45

Traiam Dumitrache (left), 50, died, but Elvis Cojocariu (right), 45, an electrician from London, survived after swimming four hours and almost a mile and a half back to the shore

Prosecutor David Richards said the incident happened on August 6, 2017 at around 12:25 p.m. on a calm and clear night off Shoreham in West Sussex.

The court heard that the Vertrouwen should have been on the lookout for two guards, but there was only one – the skipper Marr. Instead of keeping watch as he should have, he reportedly wrote messages on his phone.

Mr. Richards said: “He was in a WhatsApp conversation with a friend, Davey Watt. It is very clear that he did not know James 2 at all.

"He hasn't paid enough attention, if at all … The James 2 men could see the dark shape and they thought they were going to be run over."

When it was flooded, the four men on board screamed loudly and continued waving their torches to attract attention.

Emergency services respond to the Shoreham incident in West Sussex in August 2017

Emergency services respond to the Shoreham incident in West Sussex in August 2017

Mr. Richards said: "Water flooded James 2, but the Vertrouwen continued in the same direction and at the same speed."

The lights of her torches should have been observed from the Vertrouwen. "But Mr. Marr wasn't paying attention," said Mr. Richards. "If he had seen the James 2 and the men on the boat when he was steaming near them."

He said when the anglers tried desperately to get attention, they looked up at the wheelhouse but couldn't see anyone there.

Your boat was flooded by a second wave after the trawler and sank very quickly.

The jury was informed that the James 2 was more suitable for inland waterways than for the sea and had insufficient lighting and radar equipment.

Marr from Peterhead, Aberdeenshire, where his boat is registered, denied the indictment.

Marr told the court that he hadn't been distracted by the Whatsupp message, and even though he hadn't seen the smaller ship, he said he had been vigilant all the time.

After eight hours and 50 minutes, the jury was released after making no judgment.

The court heard that after a review by the prosecutor's office, a decision will be made as to whether the trial should be repeated.

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