Vessel damage results in court charge

Case adjourned to clarify payment of compensation

A boating incident in July was the subject of charges brought to Summary Court on Tuesday, when Richard Morrison Stein pleaded guilty to a charge brought under the Port Authority Law. 

Stein admitted navigating a vessel, The Flying Scotsman, in territorial waters on July 17, in such a manner as to cause damage to property, namely the vessel Miss Michelle.  

Following his guilty plea, the same charge against David Charles Titcombe was withdrawn. 

No details were given in court such as the location or circumstances of the incident, or the owner or the size of the damaged boat. 

Defense attorney Laurence Aiolfi told Magistrate Grace Donalds that the charge was akin to careless driving, but the penalties were higher. He said the damages would be subject to an insurance claim as it would be in a road traffic accident. 

Crown counsel Marilyn Brandt said she would have to be satisfied that the insurance company would cover the damage before she was willing to proceed to sentencing. Otherwise, she indicated, she would ask the court to order compensation. 

Mr. Aiolfi said he hoped the matter could be finalized that day. There was no suggestion of any absence of an insurance policy. He explained that as a result of this matter, the defendant’s charter business had to be wound down and he would be leaving the island for a few months.  

Magistrate Grace Donalds said it sounded as if the Crown wanted to be sure that the insurance company would cover the damage, not just that a policy was in place. 

Mr. Aiolfi said the complainant had instructed attorneys to assist him with making the claim. Things had reached the stage where there had been an assessment of damage and adjusters have been instructed. He noted that the complainant was claiming loss of income as a fisherman and this would be part of negotiations. 

The attorney said that where payment is going to be made through an insurance company a compensation order was not appropriate. 

Ms Brandt responded that there was nothing before the court to say that the insurance company will pay. “There have been cases in which insurers have refused to pay, for example, in instances of gross negligence,” she pointed out.  

The magistrate set the matter for mention again on Jan. 12. It was hoped that the insurance company would have reached a decision by then. 

Support local journalism. Subscribe to the all-access pass for the Cayman Compass.

Subscribe now