Fine for skipper of sunk trawler ‘sends strong message’

The Silver Dee sank after a collision off the Down coast two years ago
The Silver Dee sank after a collision off the Down coast two years ago

A trawler skipper has been fined more than £2,250 after his boat collided with another vessel off the Co Down coast over two years ago.

Ardglass man Paul Thomas Wills was the skipper of the Silver Dee, which collided with the Good Intent in the early hours of July 29, 2015.

The Silver Dee began to take on water and was evacuated, with the crew boarding the Good Intent which had pulled up alongside.

The Silver Dee then sank completely about 10 miles south-east of Ardglass.

Wills pleaded guilty at Downpatrick Magistrates’ Court to three charges including failing to keep a proper lookout, causing the loss of the Silver Dee and causing serious damage to the Good Intent.

The prosecution was brought by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA).

The MCA’s technical manager, Captain Bill Bennett, hoped Wills’ conviction would “send a strong message” that unsafe practices at sea will be taken seriously.

He added: “The MCA is thankful there was no injury or loss of life in this very serious incident. It is a matter of concern that there remains a high incidence of watch keepers on fishing vessels not maintaining a proper lookout.”

District judge Philip Mateer said there had been a “real risk of harm” to the 10 people aboard the two vessels.

He added: “It is important that anyone in charge of a vehicle that could cause death or serious injury will keep a proper lookout.”