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Yacht manager faces retrial on manslaughter charges

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Editor’s note: This story is developing and will be updated.

 

A retrial has begun for British yacht manager Douglas Innes on four manslaughter charges in the deaths of the Cheeki Rafiki crew in May 2014, according to news reports.

The 40-foot Beneteau lost its keel and capsized on its return from Antigua Sailing Week to Southampton, UK. The bodies of the crew – Andrew Bridge, 22; James Male, 22; Steve Warren, 52; and Paul Goslin, 56 – were never found.

Twenty jurors have been selected and a jury was sworn in Tuesday at Winchester Crown Court, news sources have reported.

In a 2017 trial, Innes and his company, Stormforce Coaching Limited, were found guilty of failing to ensure the safety of the yacht, but jurors could not reach a verdict on the four charges of manslaughter by gross negligence.

Much of that trial focused on yacht survey and coding requirements. Prosecutors said Innes had failed to maintain Cheeki Rafiki to a reasonable standard because he had not had the yacht surveyed before setting off on a trans-Atlantic, and because the yacht was not coded at the time.

The defense argued that Cheeki Rafiki had been surveyed when Stormforce Coaching took over management of the yacht in 2011, that ongoing maintenance had revealed no indication it required another survey, and that coding related only to equipment required for commercial activity and would not have guaranteed the structural safety of the yacht.

After the July verdict, the judge released Innes on unconditional bail while prosecutors sought a retrial on the manslaughter charges. Shortly after the trial ended, Stormforce Coaching ceased operating.

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