herald

Friday 24 January 2020

'God-given right to sail on Liffey', yacht skipper tells court

Co-defendant Ronan Stephens, a former motorbike racer, outside Dublin District Court where his case was adjourned
Co-defendant Ronan Stephens, a former motorbike racer, outside Dublin District Court where his case was adjourned

A yacht captain denied being drunk while erratically sailing a pleasure boat in a Dublin Port shipping lane and has told a court it was his "God-given right" to operate his vessel.

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

Sailors of a 26-foot pleasure craft refused to get out of the shipping lane and delayed the approach of the Corinthian cruise liner, Dublin District Court heard.

Gardai were also brought out on the water to deal with the situation but were allegedly told to "f**k off", the trial heard.

It started after the small boat left its mooring at a south Dublin bank sailing club. After a couple of hours the sailing boat, which had an outboard engine, was brought to a halt at Sir John Rogerson Quay.

Boat owner and yacht club member Brian Stacey (46), of Derry Drive, Crumlin, and co-defendant Ronan Stephens, (42), a former motorbike racer from Captain's Road also in Crumlin, face charges under the Maritime Safety Act.

Threatening

They deny careless sailing, operating a vessel while intoxicated and engaging in threatening and abusive behaviour.

After a four-day non-jury trial, the defence and prosecution closed their cases yesterday, and Judge John Hughes adjourned the case until January to consider his verdict.

Mr Stacey told the court that there was no alcohol on board and he could not remember the last time he had an alcoholic drink.

He accused the rescue boats and a harbour master pilot's boat of trapping his boat and he asked them: "What do you want?"

But he added: "None of them would give me an answer."

He denied claims he used profanities and told the court: "I told them it was my God-given right to sail down the Liffey if I feel like it."

Co-accused Mr Stephens said he had to dock the boat when his friend switched over to the harbour master's vessel.

The pleasure boat was seized and destroyed and the defence have submitted it was missing evidence.

Promoted articles

Entertainment News