A FISHING boat captain who crashed his vessel into South Shields pier has been told he put himself and others at risk by a court judge.
Robert Trueman was in charge of the Grenaa Star – his privately owned boat which is registered in Hartlepool – when it struck the pier at 6.30am on December 17 2013.
The badly-damaged vessel started taking in water, and had to be helped by two lifeboats.
Salvage experts from Tyne and Wear Marine and workers from the Port of Tyne were drafted in to help move the 60ft boat to a safe berth – just off the beach at Littlehaven.
Trueman was taken to hospital with a head injury he sustained in the collision.
The stricken boat was grounded for four days after the collision before being re-floated four days later and towed to the former Readheads yard at Tyne Dock.
There was a risk of injury to others and the defendant himself did suffer an injuryDistrict Judge Helen Cousins
Trueman pleaded guilty to a charge of failing to keep a good lookout – as required by Rule 5 of the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea – when he appeared before South Tyneide Magistrates’ Court yesterday.
Graham Duff, prosecuting on behalf of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, said: “There are aggravating features which may justify the matter being sent to the crown court.
“On the other side of the coin, this incident involves a small vessel. In terms of personal injury, there is only damage to the vessel. The entire incident takes place over about 30 minutes.”
District Judge Helen Cousins said the case was so serious that it should be dealt with at Newcastle Crown Court.
Judge Cousins said the “aggravating” features of the case included Trueman drinking the evening before he set off from North Shields Fish Quay, bound for the North sea fishing grounds.
Judge Cousins said: “There are serious aggravating features. There is the presence of alcohol.
“I note it is from the evening before but this would not be a mitigating factor in a drink and drive matter. There was a risk of injury to others and the defendant himself did suffer an injury.
“The full gambit of sentencing powers should be made available to the court.
“I believe the crown court should be the venue.”
The operation to try to save the Grenaa Star involved two RNLI crews taking a pump aboard the sinking boat trying to pump her out. A second pump was placed on board shortly afterwards by the crew of the inshore lifeboat.
Trueman was taken off his vessel by a police boat and transferred to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle for treatment.
The two remaining crew members shut down the fuel supply to prevent pollution and at low tide on the day of the collision it was decided to abandon the pumping, as it was making no difference.
Trueman, of Rowell Street, in Hartlepool, will appear at Newcastle Crown Court on March 31.