Cornwall

Rescued Falmouth boat owner fined for endangering lives

Prince of Wales pier Image copyright Falmouth Coastguard Rescue Team
Image caption A large emergency service response rescued Shaun Pelter and his companion from the sea

A man who overturned a boat with a passenger on board, sparking a major rescue, has been fined.

Shaun Pelter, 58, was taking his friend on his motorised boat, returning to the yacht on which he lives in Falmouth, Cornwall.

He admitted offences of failing to have lights, not maintaining a proper lookout and of endangering lives.

Truro Magistrates Court heard the boat hit a buoy and overturned throwing the pair into the sea.

They had drunk four pints of beer each at a pub in the town, before getting into the wooden boat without any lights or lifejackets after dark.

Pelter's companion was not facing the way they were travelling making it harder to keep a lookout, and had a suitcase on his lap as they attempted the 500m journey.

'Expensive mistake'

After capsizing, on the evening of 21 March, a member of the public heard shouting from the town and alerted emergency services.

Two lifeboats and a coastguard helicopter attended, along with police and ambulance staff.

Pelter, a retired meteorologist in the Royal Navy, was in the water for more than 20 minutes, the court was told.

District Judge Diane Baker told him: "Your friend has nearly lost his life and so have you.

"You were severely hypothermic. If there was any greater delay you could well be dead."

He was ordered to pay £3072 at Truro Magistrates Court, £900 of which was a fine.

The judge told Pelter he had "made an expensive mistake but luckily not as expensive as losing your life or that of your friend".

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