Boat owner ‘not aware’ of carbon monoxide safety guidelines

The owner of a boat on which two fishermen died of carbon monoxide poisoning has said he was not aware of marine safety guidelines about the gas.

Mark Arries, 26, and Edward Ide, 21, were found dead on the Eshcol as it was moored in Whitby harbour, North Yorkshire, after a fishing trip in January 2014.

The pair were using the grill of a gas cooker to heat the boat overnight as they slept.

Timothy Bowman-Davies, 44, from Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, has admitted breaching safety laws but denies knowing the men were using the cooker as a heating source.

He told a trial of issue at Leeds Crown Court that he was not aware of the risks of CO on boats and did not know he needed to have the gas cooker serviced.

The defendant said the Maritime and Coastguard Agency had inspected the £100,000 boat 11 weeks before the "tragic accident" and was "happy" with its condition.

He said he relied on his local MCA inspector to advise him and believed any safety concerns would have been raised during the inspection.

He told the hearing: "I didn't know it needed to be done. I had the MCA inspector on the boat, I would have thought he would have told me.

"I'm a fisherman. Unless I'm helped along a little bit I don't know what to do. I rely on my local inspector for advice."

Bowman-Davies said he believed that other boat owners had a similar lack of awareness about the risk of CO and the guidelines surrounding it.

But he agreed when prosecutor James Leonard said: "I put to you your lack of awareness is a very serious failing on your part as the owner of the vessel."

The defendant, who said he was "devastated" about the deaths of the two men, told the court: "I don't blame anybody. It's something that happened that shouldn't have happened, a tragic accident."

The trial, which is sitting without a jury, has heard that the defendant's son Jake, who was 15 at the time, made police statements in which he said he and his father were aware of the cooker being used as a heater on the Eshcol.

But when he gave evidence on Monday, the teenager, now 19, denied giving police this information.

His father told the court his son had never told him about anyone misusing the cooker in this way and he "did not know" why he would have made such statements.

Mr Arries and Mr Ide, both from Amble, Northumberland, were part of a crew of three working on the Eshcol to fish for scallops with two other boats owned by Bowman-Davies.

They had returned from a fishing trip in the early hours of January 15 2014 and were found dead in their bunks a few hours later, with the grill of the gas cooker on.

Bowman-Davies has pleaded guilty to failing to ensure the ship was operated safely and that work equipment was maintained efficiently.

The trial of issue was adjourned until Wednesday.


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