Tuesday 21 January 2020

Drunken sailors in port row 'told gardai to eff off', court hears

Ronan Stephens (pictured) and Brian Stacey deny the charges
Ronan Stephens (pictured) and Brian Stacey deny the charges

Two men sailing erratically in the shipping lane of Dublin Port were drunk and told gardai to "eff off" when they went out in a lifeboat and asked them to desist, a trial has heard.

Dublin Fire Brigade and RNLI lifeboats were called out to deal with the incident at about 6am on June 1, 2017.

The sailors of the 26ft pleasure craft refused to get out of the shipping lane and delayed the approach of the Corinthian, a 4,000-tonne cruise liner, Dublin District Court has heard.

One of the men allegedly told a lifeboat skipper it was "their God-given right to go up and down this river as Dubliners".

Boat owner and yacht club member Brian Stacey (46), of Derry Drive, Crumlin, and co-defendant Ronan Stephens, (42), of Captain's Road, Crumlin, face charges under the Maritime Safety Act and the Public Order Act.

Following submissions from defence barristers Joe Mulrean and John Griffin, Judge John Hughes dismissed two charges: failing to comply with a garda and endangerment of an RNLI lifeboat crew. The two defendants remain accused of trespass at the yacht club, being intoxicated, navigating the craft without due care at the shipping lane on the Liffey and breach of the peace, which they deny.

Garda Vicky Montgomery was one of three gardai brought out on the water by the RNLI to help deal with the situation. She told Judge Hughes the two defendants were asked to desist and leave the shipping channel.

They had cans of alcohol and she believed they were intoxicated. She said it appeared they had consumed a lot of alcohol.

Questioned by the defence, she did not know what brand the drinks were but believed it was alcohol. She said the craft attempted to crash into the RNLI boat but she was aware of evidence of an RNLI witness that there was no collision.

Mr Mulrean put it to her that Garda Patrick Collins said the boat and the RNLI craft described it as a "bump". She gave evidence of being told to "eff off" when she asked the two men in the boat to desist.

Counsel put it to her that the men had been heading to Dun Laoghaire and were forced back by a Dublin harbour pilot. She said she wasn't aware of that.

Brian Stacey
Brian Stacey

Mr Mulrean said a ship carrying the pilot and the RNLI lifeboat hemmed in the sailing boat. His client, Mr Stephens, was told by his friend that he wanted to sail his craft under the East Link bridge because he did not want it to be damaged.

Gda Montgomery said she did not remember hearing it but that was where the boat went.

The trial continues on July 24.

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