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Conviction of 'menaces' who sank cruiser

PUBLISHED: 08:42 12 March 2008 | UPDATED: 10:36 03 July 2010

The successful prosecution of two holidaymakers who recklessly sank their hire cruiser after a boozy birthday bash has been welcomed by the Broads Authority.

The successful prosecution of two holidaymakers who recklessly sank their hire cruiser after a boozy birthday bash has been welcomed by the Broads Authority.

A party of friends from Hertfordshire had reportedly been acting irresponsibly on the Broads all weekend before their luxury cruiser, hired from Richardson's boatyard, in Stalham, came to grief on a bend of the River Bure about half a mile east of the Pontiac Roadhouse midway between Acle and Yarmouth.

The accident happened last May in the middle of the night and Gorleston inshore lifeboat was called to rescue the friends, finding them shivering on the bank in their underwear.

At Yarmouth Magistrates' Court, scaffolder Ross Hamilton, of Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire, who had been celebrating his 23rd birthday on the ill-fated trip, denied failing to navigate with care, failing to have lights on and failing to ensure his vessel was properly moored, but was found guilty on each charge. He was fined a total of £500 and ordered to pay £500 Broads Authority costs.

Matthew Oakford, 25, of Bunting-ford, Hertfordshire, denied one charge of failing to moor properly but was found guilty and fined £250 with £500 Broads Authority costs.

The authority's head of waterways strategy and safety, Steve Birtles, welcomed the court verdicts as sending a “strong message to navigate responsibly on the Broads”.

He said: “Apart from putting their own lives in danger, their actions posed a menace to other holiday-makers enjoying their time on the Broads. We had received reports about their behaviour throughout the weekend and would like to thank members of the public for helping in the compiling of witness statements.”

Nigel Crouch, hire fleet manager for Richardson's, said: “As a boatyard with 250 boats we would highlight the way these people put their lives at risk.

“We have customers coming on the Broads year after year and it is perfectly safe provided they adhere to the rules and instruction given them when they hire the boat.”

He said £20,000 damage had been caused to the craft, which was put out of action for more than a month, and the company had not recovered anywhere near that amount from its insurance.

He said news of such accidents was also unwelcome publicity that might deter people from coming on a Broads holiday.

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