Hartlepool fishing boat captain had been drinking before vessel crashed into pier

A FISHING boat captain who crashed into a pier has been told he put himself and others at risk by a judge.

Robert Trueman, from Hartlepool, was in charge of the Grenaa Star – his privately-owned boat which is registered in Hartlepool – when it struck South Shields pier at 6.30am on December 17, 2013.

The grounded  Grenaa Star

The grounded Grenaa Star

The badly damaged-vessel started taking in water, and had to be helped to safety by two Tynemouth RNLI lifeboats.

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 Tyneside Magistrates’ Court yesterday.

Graham Duff, prosecuting on behalf of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, said: “I see 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 an “aggravating” feature of the case was that Trueman had been drinking the evening before he set off from North Shields Fish Quay, bound for the North Sea fishing grounds.

Judghe 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.”

Trueman will appear at Newcastle Crown Court on March 31.

On the day of the collision, salvage experts and workers from the Port of Tyne were drafted into help move the 60ft boat to a safe berth in shallow water off the beach at Littlehaven, South Shields.

She was refloated and taken away for salvage four days later.

Trueman, of Rowell Street, Hartlepool, was taken to hospital with a head injury he sustained in the collision.

Two RNLI crew took a salvage pump onto the sinking boat and began to pump her out, and a second pump was placed on board shortly afterwards.

The two remaining crew members shut down the fuel supply to prevent pollution and was decided to abandon the pumping, as it was making no difference.