York & North Yorkshire

Boat owner admits safety failings over fishermen's deaths

Eshcol in Whitby
Image caption The two men died while sleeping on board a fishing boat

The owner of a fishing boat on which two men died from carbon monoxide poisoning has pleaded guilty to breaching safety laws.

Mark Arries, 26, from Blyth, and Edward Ide, 21, from Amble, died while the boat was moored in Whitby harbour in January 2014.

The men used a gas cooker for heating as they slept on the boat.

Timothy Bowman-Davies, of Haverfordwest in Pembrokeshire, admitted failing to ensure the boat was operated safely.

The 44-year-old also admitted failing to ensure equipment on the ship, called the Eshcol, was maintained efficiently

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A trial of issue before a judge is being held at Leeds Crown Court to decide if he knew the crew were using the cooker for heating.

The two fishermen began work on the boat on 8 January 2014 and returned to Whitby in the early hours of 15 January.

Mr Bowman-Davies's son Jake, then 15, was working on one of the other boats and found the bodies of his colleagues.

"There was like a vapoury smoke, there was no air, that's how it felt," he told the court.

Ineffective management

He found both men in their bunks and said the grill of the gas cooker had been on.

He denied earlier witness statements in which he told police he and and his father knew the cooker was being used as a heater in "short bursts", insisting neither were aware of the cooker being used as a heater.

The Marine Accident Investigation Branch found the boat had no carbon monoxide alarm, heaters did not work and the cooker had not been installed correctly.

It also found the management of the vessel was ineffective.

An inquest jury in 2014 returned verdicts of death by misadventure and the coroner also said he would be recommending that boats were fitted with alarms.

The hearing continues.

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