Devon breakwater crash: Sleeping skipper has fine cut

A trawler skipper who crashed into a breakwater in Devon after he fell asleep at the wheel has had his fine cut after an appeal.

Ian Hurford, 36, of Lakes Road, Brixham, was fined £7,000 and £4,858.31 in costs after the 2010 crash.

Judge Barry Cotter, at Exeter Crown Court, reduced the fine to £500, but said he was unable to alter the costs.

He said the fine ordered by Torquay magistrates in May was "excessive" because of his personal circumstances.

Hurford had returned from a fishing trip in his 40ft (12m) trawler called Angelena, after spending 125 hours at sea over six days.

The court heard that he was in debt at the time and had therefore tried to work as many hours at sea as he could.

Hurford had previously admitted causing a collision and failing to maintain a proper lookout during the incident in September 2010.

'Excessive fine'

On Friday, Gareth Evans, prosecuting said: "He could have hit anything, including another vessel."

Judge Cotter said: "The reality in this case is that the majority of the consequences fell on the defendant in terms of financial impact.

"We have no doubts the fine was excessive because both offences arose from the same act of falling asleep.

"We have to look at the totality of the fine and costs and the ability of this individual to pay them," he added.

Michael Brabin, defending, said: "He had been out in rough weather all day and went into the warmth of the wheelhouse and the next thing he knew was this accident.

"It could only have been for a few moments that he nodded off."

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