Russian sailor loses job over drunkeness on ship in Belfast lough


A Russian sailor found drunk in charge of a ship’s engine room received a 12-month conditional discharge on Monday.

Mikhail Irusglotov was discovered heavily over the limit twice in three days while the vessel was sailing in Belfast Lough - both on and off duty.

The 53-year-old chief engineer is to be sacked for the maritime offences and flown home to Russia.

But a judge declined to impose a fine on him after being told it would result in him being imprisoned through having no money to pay it.

Appearing at Belfast Magistrates’ Court, Isruglotov, from Arkhangel in the Russian Federation, pleaded guilty to two charges.

He faced counts of being a professional master of a ship and having excess alcohol while on duty and off.

Police were first called last Friday after the captain of the Fluvis Taw found him drunk on board.

The ship, with a crew of eight, was in Belfast Lough after transporting coal to Kilroot power station when a loss of engine revolutions was detected.

Irusglotov was the only engineer working at the time.

He was brought to court on Saturday before being released on bail to return again on Monday.

But he was arrested for breaching those conditions on Saturday after failing another breath-test.

Although Irusglotov was off duty at the time, the captain believed he was too drunk to perform his tasks if required.

A prosecution lawyer said his actions had allegedly put the ship at risk.

Defence solicitor Pat Kelly confirmed the sailor has lost his job over his drunkenness.

Mr Kelly urged District judge Rosalie Prytherch not to impose a fine, arguing that it would lead to his client being imprisoned.

“He has no cash on him and he instructs that he has got no cash back on the ship,” the lawyer said.

All wages owed to him are to be used to pay for his flight back to Russia and onward journey to his remote region.

Mr Kelly added: “He will never appear before any court in Northern Ireland again; his employment is now terminated.”

Judge Prytherch told Irusglotov his drinking had caused safety concerns.

But she acknowledged that he had not been in overall charge of the ship.

Imposing a 12-month conditional discharge for both offences, she added: “You are going to be sent home now.

“I think the huge penalty will be for you, after so many years working, having lost your employment in this way.”