Boat owner fined after collision

The owner of a charter boat that collided with a fishing boat last year was fined $700 on Monday.

Richard Morrison Stein, owner of the Flying Scotsman, pleaded guilty on Dec. 19 to navigating a vessel in a manner to cause risk or damage to any person or property. The matter was adjourned so that compensation could be sorted out for the person in the other boat.

On Monday, Crown counsel Elizabeth Acker provided the background to the charge. She told Magistrate Kirsty-Ann Gunn that a collision occurred on July 17, 2014, around 1 a.m., in the North Sound, northwest of Harbour House Marina.

The Flying Scotsman collided with the Miss Michelle, whose occupant had been fishing alone. The fisherman had fallen asleep, but his vessel had the required light and an additional one. He was awakened by the collision and observed that someone from the other boat had been thrown into the water. It was Stein.

The fisherman helped Stein from the water, as he seemed hurt. However, Stein refused assistance; he jumped into the water and swam to his boat, which was helmed by another man. The Flying Scotsman then left the area without exchanging details with the fishing boat.

Officials arrived around 2 a.m. and observed extensive damage to the bow of the Miss Michelle. With the aid of the police air unit, the Flying Scotsman was located. It had damage to its bow, but this was minor compared to the damage sustained by the Miss Michelle.

Defense attorney Laurence Aiolfi said the offense would have significant impact on Stein’s company, which will be wound down, and the impact will also affect Stein’s business license and reputation.

Further, Mr. Aiolfi revealed, Stein had invested significant sums in his business and he will not now be able to see returns. He asked the court to take these financial considerations into account.

Stein had worked in Cayman in various capacities since 2005, he noted, with some experience in the watersports industry. “He takes these proceedings very seriously and is making life decisions as a result,” Mr. Aiolfi said.

The incident occurred, he acknowledged, because Stein did not see the other vessel; he did not see the lights.

Ms. Acker said speed could be implied because the force of the collision had ejected the defendant from his boat. She also supplied the court with photographs of the damage to the boats.

The magistrate said she could infer that Stein had been “going at some speed” and this was a significant factor because visibility is poor when traveling at night, so a boater had to be extra careful. The combination of speed and the inattentiveness was what caused the damage, she indicated. Those two elements in the circumstances of nighttime made this behavior “medium” in the spectrum of seriousness, even for a first offense.

She said Stein could get full credit for his plea because he had admitted guilt from his first court appearance and had expressed remorse from the beginning. She also noted the impact the incident had on his business. A further consequence was that he now had a conviction.

The magistrate inquired whether Mr. Aiolfi knew of any similar cases. He replied that he had looked, but had not found any reported precedents.

The Port Authority Law, last revised in 1999, provides a maximum sentence of a $1,000 fine or imprisonment “with or without hard labor.”

Imposing the fine of $700, the magistrate indicated that she took into account the civil aspects of the matter, involving the defendant’s insurance and compensation to the complainant.

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