Dredger’s skipper awaits jury’s verdict

Posted On 09 Dec 2019 at 9:52 am

The skipper of a scallop dredger is awaiting the jury’s verdict over whether he was guilty of failing to keep a proper lookout on the night three men died on his watch.

David Marr

David Brooks Marr, 53, denies breaking shipping law on the night that two Brighton men and a friend drowned a mile and a half south of Shoreham Harbour.

David Marr’s vessel, the Vertrouwen, almost ploughed into the tiny James 2 as the dredger sailed for Grimsby.

The owner of the smaller boat, Mircea “Mitch” Ilie, 40, of Elm Grove, Brighton, desperately span it around, preventing a collision, the jury was told.

But the wash from the Vertrouwen sank the James 2 and three of the four men on board drowned.

The other two men who died were Irinel Popovici, 41, of Barcombe Road, Brighton, and Traiam Dumitrache, 50, from London.

The jury heard evidence from the only survivor, Elvis Cojocariu, also from London.

He was left clinging to a buoy and spent five hours in the water before he was pulled from the sea suffering from hypothermia.

Marr, who was working for MacDuff Shellfish Ltd, had arranged to have new radar fitted on Saturday 5 August 2017 but the smaller vessel did not have radar deflectors fitted.

David Richards, prosecuting, said that Marr, of Towerhill, in Peterhead, near Aberdeen, was distracted by WhatsApp and did not appear to have realised that he had caused the James 2 to sink.

He had switched the Vertrouwen to autopilot after leaving Shoreham but should have been scouring ahead after clearing the breakwater at Shoreham.

Mr Richards said: “He should have used his eyes, his hearing and his radar as an aid to determine what traffic lay ahead.”

But he failed to maintain a proper lookout, failed to observe the lights from the James 2 and was either absent from the wheelhouse or paying inadequate attention to the sea around him.”

In any event, Mr Richards said, he should not have been keeping watch alone at night.

The jury retired to consider its verdict on Friday (6 December) after a summing up and directions from Judge Christine Laing, the honorary recorder of Brighton and Hove.

This morning (Monday 9 December) the six men and six women are continuing their deliberations.

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