Trawler skipper in court over death of fisherman Ian Thomas

Ian Thomas, Pic courtesy of the Thomas family Image copyright bbc
Image caption Mr Thomas died after being airlifted from the sea when the vessel capsized in 2011

A trawler skipper has appeared in court in connection with the death of his crewmate after their vessel capsized.

Ian Thomas, 50, Cornwall, died when the Heather Anne went over after fishing for pilchards in Gerrans Bay in 2011.

Robert Hunkin, 50, from Mevagissey, is accused of causing the death of Mr Thomas as a result of misconduct under shipping and safety laws.

No pleas were taken at Truro Magistrates' Court and he is due to appear at Truro Crown Court next month.

Mr Hunkin, from Lomoran, School Hill; and Mr Thomas, also from Mevagissey, were returning to shore in the 11m (36ft) long vessel, built in 1971, when it went over.

Another ship, the Lauren Kate, rescued the pair and Mr Thomas was airlifted to hospital in Truro where he was pronounced dead. Neither had been wearing lifejackets.

Image caption Robert Hunkin also had to be rescued from his capsized vessel

Mr Hunkin is facing four charges - under the Merchant Shipping Act 1995 and the Merchant Shipping and Fishing Vessel Health and Safety regulations 1997 - that he carried out misconduct under the laws that was likely to endanger his vessel and his crew, the court heard.

A fifth charge was adjourned until July. The prosecution has been brought by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.

Mr Hunkin, who was released on unconditional bail, is due before the Crown Court on 6 February.

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