Cheeki Rafiki trial continues

Published on June 30th, 2017

A Hampshire yachting firm director allegedly responsible for the deaths of four British sailors has told a court that when they sent him an ‘urgent’ email telling him the vessel was taking on water he did not think it was an emergency.

Douglas Innes

Douglas Innes was in a pub when he received the message from crew of the Cheeki Rafiki in the middle of the Atlantic and carried on drinking with colleagues.

The 42-year-old likened the email to a call to a roadside assistance firm rather than a 999.

A Hampshire yachting firm director allegedly responsible for the deaths of four British sailors has told a court that when they sent him an ‘urgent’ email telling him the vessel was taking on water he did not think it was an emergency.

Douglas Innes was in a pub when he received the message from crew of the Cheeki Rafiki in the middle of the Atlantic and carried on drinking with colleagues.

The 42-year-old likened the email to a call to a roadside assistance firm rather than a 999.

Innes told jurors: “Undoubtedly things have always got to be safe, we do not want people to get hurt so we strive to make sure they don’t. From a business point of view we are not going to retain customers if we are not safe, we teach people safety on courses so it’s a high priority for us.”

Innes said his initial phone discussions with the crew led him to believe that the situation aboard the yacht was not too serious.

“What they were after was advice, they were not asking for help or for someone with a tow or something, they wanted advice from us,” he said.

Innes and his colleagues moved to another pub closer to his home where Mr Bridge phoned the yacht and it became clear that the situation was worse than he had originally thought and he contacted the Coastguard.

He then received an email from the US Coastguard which said they were searching for the crew.

Innes said he did not leave his study for days while trying to help.

He said days later he was “horrified” and “really scared” at the prospect the search would be called off.

In an email to the US Coastguard he said: “Thank you for everything you have done so far, I implore you to continue searching for our guys, they need your help.”

He told the court: “I could not comprehend how you could call the search off when we believe they were on a liferaft.”

The trial continues.

Source: Daily Echo

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