'Jealous' love rival avoids prison for setting millionaire's yacht adrift

A jealous love rival has avoided jail in England after he set a millionaire's £450,000 yacht adrift having caught his girlfriend on board.

David Taylor, 54, found 26-year-old Hannah Brookes sitting with Michael Hay, 58, on his 60ft boat Coco.

He claimed he saw her performing a sex act on Mr Hay and flying into a rage cut the mooring ropes which tied it to the Newcastle Quayside, setting them adrift.

He also cut loose another boat owned by Mr Hay, called Vortex, sending both vessels drifting down the Tyne.

Mr Hay, a married father-of-two, was forced to call the fire brigade, the coastguard and the police to help get them to safety. He denied the affair had ever taken place.

Prosecutor Neil Pallister told Newcastle Crown Court the incident in November had begun earlier in the evening when Taylor and Ms Brookes had been on a date at the Pitcher and Piano pub.

But a row had started and Ms Brookes left, only for Taylor to spot her car near to Mr Hay's boat.

The yacht Coco on Newcastle Quayside.

The pair saw him peering in through the window as he stood on the pontoon and shortly after they realised they were drifting away from the shore.

Mr Hay then saw Taylor next to his other boat and that too began to drift away.

The court heard Mr Hay was able to start the engine on Coco and with the help of two police officers secure it to a jetty.

But the second boat Vortex began to float down the river, crashing into other boats and fixings before being stopped by emergency services almost a mile down stream.

Mr Pallister said almost £12,000 worth of damage was caused to Vortex and £1,500 to Coco.

Amos Waldman, defending, said the background to the case was that Taylor had long suffered from mental health problems and was currently without a job.

He said his condition had seen him hospitalised on a number of occasions.

Sentencing him to nine months in prison, suspended for 18 months, Judge Robert Adams said there had been "no proper reason apart from your own jealousy" for his actions.

"You must get help, I'm sure you accept your reaction was completely inappropriate," he said.

"It must never happen again."

He also instructed him to complete 200 hours unpaid work and pay £3,000 in compensation.

He said it remained open to Mr Hay to sue Taylor for the remaining costs that had been inflicted upon him.

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