Shipwreck `traumatic and horrific'

The wrecking of the 137-year-old square-rigger Maria Asumpta on the north Cornwall coast was a "traumatic and horrific experience", a court heard yesterday from the crewman who was at the helm as she ran aground on a submerged rock.

Three of the 14 crew died as the 125ft-long wooden vessel - then the world's oldest working sailing ship - was smashed to pieces near the end of her voyage to Padstow on May 30, 1995.

Helmsman John Howells was giving evidence at the trial of her owner-skipper Mark Litchfield, 56, of Boxley, Kent, who has denied three manslaughter charges arising from the deaths after the ship hit Rumps Point.