Businessman accused of killing friend in boat crash tells jury he was travelling ‘too quick’

Aaron Brown arriving at court. Credit: Solent News & Picture Agency
Aaron Brown arriving at court. Credit: Solent News & Picture Agency
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A BUSINESSMAN accused of killing his own friend in a boat crash has told jurors he was piloting the craft ‘too quick’.

Aaron Brown, One Com chief operating officer, is on trial accused of the manslaughter of his mentor and friend Ryan McKinlay, 36, a dad-of-one from Gosport.

Ryan McKinlay died in the crash in June 2015

Ryan McKinlay died in the crash in June 2015

Giving evidence under questioning by prosecutor Nick Tucker, Brown agreed he was a ‘novice’ on the water but had gone ‘too quick’ in the incident.

Asked by Mr Tucker if his previous conviction for speeding on the water indicated a ‘cavalier attitude towards safety on the water, a devil-may-care attitude’, Brown said: ‘That would be unfair.’

The court heard his conviction related to travelling 25 to 30 knots, more than the six knots limit, on July 5, 2012 in an eight metre long Rib.

He is accused of manslaughter by gross negligence when the Williams Turbojet 325 he was piloting crashed into the rear of a larger motor cruiser, the 62ft Fairline Targa called True Blue, co-owned by Brown. He denies the charge.

Mr McKinlay died in the crash on June 19, 2015, in Osborne Bay, off the Isle of Wight but was later pronounced dead at St Mary’s Hospital on the island.

Questioned by Mr Tucker, Brown said at the time he didn’t think it was ‘too quick’.

Breathing heavily and sobbing, Brown said: ‘Looking back it was too quick but at the time I did not think it was too quick.’

Mr Tucker said Brown had driven the tender for a maximum of 80 minutes since owning it before the crash.

But Brown said: I was confident with the Williams, I’d seen it before, done it myself, I did it two times before.

‘Every time I turned it the boat turned.’

He added: ‘I was 100 per cent confident.’

He told jurors: ‘I can’t understand what was in control, I just know that I turned right and the boat didn’t turn right.’

Asked repeatedly if he appreciated something could wrong on the water, Brown said: ‘I did not expect it to happen.’

Asked about avoiding risk he said: ‘I’d avoid any risk.’

The trial this morning had to be paused as Brown broke down again in the dock.

Mr Tucker asked: ‘The prosecution case was that you were grossly negligent because when driving a boat in which you had very little experience with alcohol in your system, albeit a small amount; and with your friend sitting up front and vulnerable in the event of collision, you chose to perform a manoeuvre which I suggest carried with it in all those circumstances an obvious risk to the life of your friend.’

Brown replied: ‘Absolutely not.’

Brown, 34, Botley Road, Curdridge, was giving evidence on the fifth day of the trial at Winchester Crown Court.

The True Blue skipper hired for the day, Paul Carey, 52, of Chatsworth Road, Southampton, denies a charge of driving too fast in contravention of Merchant Shipping regulations, in relation to earlier driving of the Williams Turbojet 325 the same afternoon.

(Proceeding)