Innes now faces safety failings from last year

Relatives of the four sailors who died when the yacht they were sailing back to England sank, sobbed as Douglas Innes, the businessman who managed the boat, was cleared of their manslaughter.

The keel broke off the boat around 1,000 miles off the coast of America. With no keel, the boat capsized and tragically, despite a week-long search, which even involved the US Navy, the four men’s bodies were never found.

At Winchester Crown Court, Innes looked relieved as the jury cleared him of four counts of manslaughter after 15 hours and 33 minutes of deliberations. Loud sobs were heard from victims’ relatives sitting in the public gallery.

However, Innes still faces sentencing for safety failings he was convicted of at an earlier trial in July last year, when he and his company Stormforce Coaching were both convicted of failing to ensure a ship was operated in a safe manner.

After clearing Innes, the jury handed a note to the judge revealing “concerns” over the certification and testing of yachts.

Mr Justice Nigel Teare read the note to the court which says: “We are deeply concerned by the evidence we have heard about the regulations involved in this case.”

He adjourned the case until May 11 for Innes, of Southampton, to be sentenced for the safety failings he and his company were convicted of at the first trial.

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This article was written and/or edited by the UK-based MIN team.

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