Cornwall

Cocaine yacht skipper 'jumped from mast to his death'

Windrose Image copyright Devon and Cornwall Police
Image caption Christiaan Woestenburg died after landing on the quayside in St Mary's harbour on the Isles of Scilly

A yachtsman whose boat was at the centre of a massive drugs raid jumped 30ft to his death from the vessel's mast, an inquest has been told.

Christiaan Woestenburg, 62, from the Netherlands, was fatally injured when he landed on the quayside in St Mary's harbour on the Isles of Scilly.

The inquest in Plymouth was told a UK Border Force team had earlier boarded the 36ft (11m) yacht the Windrose.

Investigators after found a large quantity of class A drugs was on board.

Isles of Scilly boatman Ryan Sloane, who saw Mr Woestenburg climb up the mast during the raid on 17 June 2013, told the inquest he "jumped intentionally".

One of four Border Force officers on board shouted "He's doing a runner", as Mr Woestenburg climbed the mast, he said.

Image copyright Devon and Cornwall Police
Image caption Christiaan Woestenburg jumped from the ship's mast, the inquest heard

A pathologist told the inquest Mr Woestenburg died of head, chest and pelvic injuries.

The inquest jury was shown police pictures of about 120 plastic packages containing drugs, which were found in the yacht's water tank under the cockpit floor.

The Windrose had been towed to the islands by the RNLI after the skipper, who was sailing single-handed, reported he was suffering from fatigue and his boat's rigging was failing.

Image copyright Devon and Cornwall Police
Image caption Mr Woestenburg's brother Otto said his brother was "anti drugs"

Mr Woestenburg bought and sold boats for a living and bought the Windrose in Turkey in 2009, his brother Otto told the hearing.

Otto said his brother was an accomplished sailor and had sailed to Brazil via the Cape Verde islands before returning with the intention of sailing to Holland.

On 17 June, his brother told him via satellite phone that he had called the rescue services on the Isles of Scilly because his rigging was broken and he had been towed by a lifeboat into St Mary's harbour on the islands.

He told him he would repair the boat before continuing to the Netherlands.

He said "I could not believe he would have tried to smuggle drugs. His friends are also in shock and disbelief. He was anti-drugs."

The inquest continues.

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