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Cheeki Rafiki yacht manager avoids manslaughter charges

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The jury in the case of a yacht manager on trial in the deaths of the S/Y Cheeki Rafiki crew was discharged after failing to reach a verdict on four manslaughter charges.

Douglas Innes, 42, of Whitworth Crescent, Southampton, and his company, Stormforce Coaching Limited, were convicted of failing to operate the yacht in a safe manner, contrary to Section 100 of the Merchant Shipping Act. Innes, showed no emotion as the jury chairperson announced the verdicts for the two charges, which were reached by a majority of 10-1.

The trial judge at Winchester Crown Court then discharged the 11 jurors, who had deliberated for days over the manslaughter charges without reaching a verdict.

The 40-foot Cheeki Rafiki lost its keel more than 700 miles from Nova Scotia as the crew were returning from Antigua to England in May 2014.

The bodies of Skipper Andrew Bridge, 22, James Male, 22, Steve Warren, 52, and Paul Goslin, 56, were never found, although the boat was eventually recovered.

Prosecutor Nigel Lickley told jurors that the yacht was neglected and not inspected as required. He said the yacht was not appropriately coded – licensed for the voyage – and Innes had chosen an unsafe northern route because it was shorter and enabled the yacht to return back to the U.K. in time for booked charters.

Innes denied he had cut costs or tried to save time by sending the yacht back via the northern route. He told the court that any fault with the keel had lain hidden and would not necessarily have been found by an inspector, and that he believed the yacht had not required the coding because he did not consider the journey to be a commercial voyage.

Source: The Guardian

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