Solway Harvester inquest due to end

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The Independent Online

An inquest into the deaths of seven crewmen who drowned when their fishing boat sank off the Isle of Man is set to conclude today.

The Solway Harvester went down in stormy seas off the Manx coast in January 2000, with the loss of the men from the close-knit village of the Isle of Whithorn, in Dumfries and Galloway.

The families of those who died have had to wait over eight years for the inquest to conclude as a result of lengthy investigations and legal delays.

The trawler's owner Richard Gidney went on trial in 2005 accused of manslaughter, but was acquitted when a judge ruled there was no case to answer.

An inquest began on the Isle of Man in 2006, but was postponed when it emerged that Mr Gidney refused to attend because he had received legal advice that it may "prejudice a civil claim".

Mr Gidney was eventually summoned to give evidence at Kirkcudbright Sheriff Court in June this year after a petition from the Isle of Man Coroner was granted which ordered his examination as a witness.

The Solway Harvester was 11 miles off the coast off the Isle of Man when it sank in stormy waters as it headed for the shelter of Ramsey Bay.

Skipper Craig Mills, 29, Robin Mills, 33, David Mills, 17, Martin Milligan, 26, John Murphy, 22, David Lyons, 18, and Wesley Jolly, 17, lost their lives.

A carved granite memorial to the seven crewmen stands on the island at Douglas Head.

Today's inquest will be held at 10am at the Isle of Man Courts of Justice.