Trawler captain ‘was sending Whatsapp messages when vessel hit and sank a smaller boat short hears
The captain of a fishing trawler that sank another boat and killed three fishermen on board was distracted by his Whatsapp messages, a court has heard.
David Marr, 55, was texting a friend as his 85-foot vessel, the Vertrouwen, sailed on the small fishing boat known as the James 2.
Brighton Crown Court has learned that the four anglers on board had attempted to report the commercial scallop dredge that was coming at them, shouting and waving torches.
The Vertrouwen eventually missed her smaller ship, but was swamped by a large wave, causing her to sink.
Mircea “Mitch” Ilie, 40, Irinel Popovici, 41, and Traiam Dumitrache, 50 and Elvis Cojocariu jumped into the sea without a life belt and attempted to swim to shore.
Brighton Crown Court has learned that trawler captain David Marr was on the lookout the night of the crash in 2017
A major search and rescue operation has been launched to find the missing fishermen of the James 2
Mr. Cojocariu was the only survivor.
David Marr, from Peterhead, Aberdeenshire, was tried at Brighton Crown Court on charges of not keeping proper watch on board the commercial trawler, contrary to international regulations on preventing a collision at sea.
The court heard there should have been two guards on the lookout, but only David Marr was on duty.
David Richards, prosecuting, said the tragic incident occurred around 12:25 p.m. on August 6, 2017 on a calm and clear night.
He said: ‘It is very clear that he was absolutely unaware of the James 2. He was not paying enough attention, if at all, to keeping a lookout out of his wheelhouse.
“If he had, he would have seen the James 2, he would have seen the men on board as he walked towards them and passed them.
“Mr. Marr was busy with other matters and was unnecessarily distracted from his main job of paying attention.
Elvis Cojocariu, the quartet’s only survivor, told court the trawler ‘kept coming closer’
Mircea “Mitch” Ilie, 40, was among three not to land after the accident
Irinel Popovici, 41, also failed to make it back to shore after their small boat sank
Traiam Dumitrache, 50, was pronounced dead after his body was taken from the sea
“They were screaming, they were signaling like crazy. Water took over the James 2 but the Vertrouwen continued in the same direction and at the same speed.
Only Mr Cojocariu, 45, a London electrician, survived after being picked up by a dawn fisherman who was checking his nets.
He was exhausted and hypothermic and was rushed to hospital.
Speaking through a Romanian interpreter, Mr Cojocariu said: “He kept approaching, he was coming, coming, coming. I saw him and his engines were roaring.”
“After the impact, everyone was shouting, ‘Help! Help! “”
The jury was told that the James 2 was more suitable for inland waterways than the sea and that it lacked much of the lighting it should have had.
However, Mr Richards said, there were navigation lights and searchlights and the men wore headlamps.
Oliver Powell, defending, asked Mr. Cojocariu how much alcohol the group had drunk during the day and evening of the incident.
Mr Cojocariu admitted that a significant amount of alcohol, including whiskey, beer, wine and vodka, had been drunk.
The case continues.