Boat owner charged over death of fishermen

By Paul Kelbie,Scotland Correspondent
Saturday 18 January 2014 04:48

A fishing boat owner whose vessel sank off the coast of the Isle of Man with the loss of seven lives more than two years ago was charged with manslaughter yesterday.

Richard Gidney, 38, a company director of Gatehouse of Fleet, in Dumfries and Galloway, was charged by Isle of Man Constabulary. He is due to appear at the High Bailiff's Court on the island on 19 July, with Douglas White 43, from Kirkcudbright, who was the skipper of another boat belonging to Mr Gidney. He faces an unspecified charge under the Merchant Shipping Act.

The Solway Harvester, a Kirkcudbright-registered scallop vessel, sank in stormy waters in the Irish Sea about 11 miles from the Isle of Man, killing all the crew, including three members of the same family, on 11 January 2000.

The skipper, Andrew Craig Mills, 29, his brother Robin Mills, 33, and their cousin David Mills, 17, died with Martin Milligan, 26, John Murphy, 22, David Lyons, 18, and Wesley Jolly, 17, when the 70ft vessel went down within minutes of running into trouble.

Initial speculation suggested that a hatch might have been left open on the deck, allowing the vessel to be swamped by a freak wave.

The victims, all of whom were from the villages of Garlieston, Whithorn and Isle of Whithorn in the remote Machars area of Galloway in south-west Scotland, were recovered by divers working for the Manx government and returned to their families a month after the tragedy.

The vessel was later lifted from the seabed and towed into Ramsey harbour, where it was inspected by the Marine Accident Investigations Branch. Its report has been delayed until criminal proceedings are completed.