Failure to maintain a liferaft and replace a hydrostatic release on a small passenger boat carrying tourists from Falmouth has earned George Pill Snr., 61, two six months sentences in prison and costs of £8,500 at Truro Crown Court.
On the 22nd August 2008 a Surveyor from the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) was conducting an audit on the small Class V passenger vessel, the Haven Rose in the port of Falmouth. It became apparent that the vessels liferaft was overdue for servicing and the hydrostatic release unit, HRU, was past its expiry date.
The surveyor found the serial number of the liferaft had been obliterated and servicing data was attached to the label using yellow embossed Dymo tape instead of the normal black printed lettering on white tape.
Further enquiries showed that liferaft should have been serviced in December 2007. The hydrostatic release should have been replaced at the same time. The matter was passed to the Enforcement Unit of the Maritime & Coastguard Agency for further investigation.
The owner of the Haven Rose was identified as a Mr George Pill Senior. Attempts were made to talk Mr. George Pill Sr. but he declined to be interviewed.
On Friday 27th November 2009 Mr. Pill Sr. appeared in the Magistrates Court charged with two offences relating to proceeding on voyages without a serviced liferaft and out of date hydrostatic release.
He pleaded guilty to both charges. The Magistrates decided it was a serious matter and that they had insufficient sentencing powers and committed Mr. Pill Sr. to Truro Crown Court for sentencing.
The Judge, His Honour Judge Elwen said: “Passenger safety is paramount. Cutting corners is not acceptable. This was a deliberate act and to suggest this was a mere oversight is laughable. Running a full season without a serviceable liferaft, ready for immediate use, aggravated the problem. A firm message can go around Cornwall and the West Country that this behaviour is far too serious for anything other than immediate custody.”
South West Area Operations Manager for the MCA, Tony Heslop said: The agency is quietly pleased with the result today. Visitors need to be reassured that such pleasure boat trips at Falmouth and elsewhere remain as safe as possible. We will not tolerate any deliberate breaking of the regulations.