At a hearing today at Truro Crown Court, the owner/skipper of a fishing boat was handed a 28 day prison sentence - suspended for two years - and ordered to pay £500 in costs after pleading guilty to breaches of the International regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea.
Between January 8, 2013 and June 3, 2013 Dean James Rollason was observed on five occasions operating a fishing vessel without navigation lights at night. The incidents occurred in the Fowey River, River Camel estuary, Penryn River and off Looe in Cornwall.
Several agencies reported the sightings to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) who instigated legal action after reviewing the evidence. Four of the offences were committed in a small fishing vessel Top Dog, owned by Rollason.
Rollason had pleaded guilty at an earlier magistrates’ court hearing to five breaches of the Merchant Shipping (Distress Signal and Prevention of Collisions) Regulations 1996 by failing to comply with Rule 23 of the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea 197, as amended. However, the magistrates’ court had felt it had insufficient powers and passed the matter to the crown court for sentencing.
The court heard that Rollason had previously received two police warnings and been prosecuted on two other occasions for failure to show navigation lights.
In passing sentence, Judge Peter Johnson said, "You are an inshore fisherman that repeatedly flouted regulations for your commercial gain. Time and time again you flouted the law."
"Having no navigation lights, you put yourself and other sea-users at risk." Captain Andrew Phillips, Enforcement Officer at the MCA, said: "The use of correct navigation lights is essential to safety at sea and for the avoidance of collision. Failure to do so places all users of navigable waters at risk.”