Cowes Week yacht crash skipper Roland Wilson found guilty

Former Royal Navy Officer was fined £3,000 and made to pay £100,000 in court costs

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A Royal Navy Officer who was at the helm of a racing yacht that collided with an oil tanker in the Solent has been ordered to pay more than £100,000 in court costs and fined £3,000.

Roland Wilson, now a lieutenant in the Navy Reserves, was convicted of three breaches of maritime regulation. These were failing to keep a proper lookout and two counts of impeding the passage of a vessel.

The court heard that the 32-year-old was in charge of the 33ft (19.8m) yacht Atalanta of Chester which collided with the 869ft (265m) Hanne Knutsen on the first day of Cowes Week in August 2011 despite the married father-of-one, from Stanley, Perthshire, having seen the tanker from five miles (8km) away.

The tanker had been making its way to Fawley Oil refinery.

Footage of the incident, in which one crew member suffered minor head injuries and another abandoned ship, was posted on YouTube and has been viewed more than 900,000 times.

Wilson told the court that the tanker had sounded its horn to indicate it was to turn in another direction but then did not carry out the manoeuvre, leaving him in a dangerous position in front of the vessel.

District Judge Anthony Callaway fined Wilson £2,000 for failing to keep a proper lookout, a specific offence, and £500 for both offences of impeding the passage of a vessel and ordered him to pay a £15 victim surcharge.

The judge said, “Fortuitously there was no loss of life. This was a serious incident in itself, the potential for an even greater consequence was apparent.”

The maximum penalty was £5,000 on each charge.

But at the end of the five-day trial at Southampton Magistrates Court, Wilson was also ordered to pay the full costs of the prosecution, totalling £100,056.68.

The court heard that a substantial part of these costs was to pay for expert witnesses who examined and reconstructed the routes taken by the vessels in the run up to the crash.