Boat owner jailed after North East fishermen died from carbon monoxide poisoning

The scene at Whitby Fish Market where two men were found dead aboard the Eshcol
The scene at Whitby Fish Market where two men were found dead aboard the Eshcol

The owner of a boat on which two fishermen died of carbon monoxide poisoning has been jailed for 15 months.

Mark Arries, 26, and Edward Ide, 21, from Amble, Northumberland, were found dead on the fishing vessel Eshcol as it was moored in Whitby harbour, North Yorkshire, in January 2014.

The scene at Whitby Fish Market where two men were found dead aboard the Eshcol

The scene at Whitby Fish Market where two men were found dead aboard the Eshcol

The pair were using a gas cooker to warm the boat overnight as they slept.

Boat owner Timothy Bowman-Davies admitted failing to ensure that the ship was operated safely and that work equipment was maintained efficiently was aware that the crew were using the cooker as a heating source.

But the 44-year-old from Haverford West, Pembrokeshire, told Leeds Crown Court he did not know the men were using the cooker as a heater.

On Wednesday Judge Tom Bayliss QC rejected this basis of plea and jailed the defendant for 15 months.

He said: "Two men have died. Those who employ others and whose actions create a risk of harm must take the consequences when harm results, such as here."

The judge said: "He knew the cooker was being used to heat the vessel. A simple risk assessment would have revealed the danger."

He also said there appears to have been a "general ignorance within the industry" about the dangers of carbon monoxide.

In victim personal statements read to the court, Mr Arries and Mr Ide were both described by their families as doting young fathers who had fishing in their blood.

Mr Arries's fiancee, Kim Grieve, explained how one of their two twin daughters had died shortly after her birth just five months before the incident.

She said Mr Arries was a "devoted dad" to his son, who is now eight, and surviving twin daughter.

Ms Grieve said: "I'm heartbroken my soul mate has gone."

His mother, Tracey Arries, said in her statement that she worried every day about her son out at sea only to see him die while tied up in port.

She said: "It breaks my heart that I lost my boy when something so small as a monitor would have saved his life."

Mr Ide's mother, Gail Oliver, said her "world fell apart" with the death of her son.

His fiancee, Sarah-Louise Tait said he was loving father to their son, now three.

The court heard that Mr Arries, from Blyth, Northumberland, and Mr Ide arrived to work on the boat on January 8 2014.

They were part of a fleet of three vessels fishing for scallops in the North Sea and had returned from a trip in the early hours of the morning of January 15.

The court heard that Bowman-Davies's son Jake, who was 15 at the time, was working on one of the other boats and found the bodies of his colleagues.

The 19-year-old said each of the three vessels was provided with a fan heater for warmth and could access power from the engine, a generator or an electric hook-up in the harbour.

He said he offered the two men a power cable after they moored in Whitby but they refused.

Jake Bowman-Davies told the court his father did not know the cooker was being used as a heater on the Eshcol, which contradicted his statements to police.

Judge Bayliss said he believed the teenager's original version of events, accusing him of lying in court to protect his father.

The court heard how two of the defendant's other boats were lost after the tragedy with his son skippering.

One sank with the crew having to be rescued by helicopter and the other crashed into rocks when Jake Bowman-Davies fell asleep.

Reports from 2015 described the then 17-year-old as Britain's youngest fishing boat captain. They said he crashed the £300,000 vessel in the dark near Milford Haven eight months after the sinking of the other vessel off the Llyn Peninsula in North Wales.

But Jake Bowman-Davies was given a bravery award for saving the lives of his crew during the first incident.