Fatal boat crash accused breaks down as he gives evidence in manslaughter trial

Ryan McKinlay
Ryan McKinlay

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A SUCCESSFUL businessman accused of killing his friend in a boat crash broke down and suffered a panic attack when called to give evidence at crown court.

Aaron Brown, 34, is charged with manslaughter after the incident in Osborne Bay, off the Isle of Wight, on June 19, 2015.

Aaron Brown

Aaron Brown

He was driving a Williams Turbojet 325 – a type of Rib – with his friend Ryan McKinlay on board when it collided with a 62ft motor cruiser boat called True Blue, co-owned by Brown.

Mr McKinlay, a 36-year-old businessman from Gosport, was pronounced dead at hospital in the evening.

Brown is on trial at Winchester Crown Court charged with manslaughter, which he denies.

Today he was called to the dock to give evidence.

A still taken from footage issued by Hampshire police of a Williams Turbojet 325 rigid inflatable boat (Rib) being driven by Aaron Brown

A still taken from footage issued by Hampshire police of a Williams Turbojet 325 rigid inflatable boat (Rib) being driven by Aaron Brown

Brown broke down and sobbed as he was shown photos from the day, which included Ryan McKinlay and other guests from the day. After composing himself and answering initial questions from his defence Trevor Burke QC, Brown suffered a further panic attack, causing the trial to be paused.

When he returned to the dock, he could barely talk through large sobs.

Brown said he didn’t believe he was doing anything different to what his guests had been doing earlier that day.

‘My intention was to spray the back of the boat,’ he said.

He said he did not anticipate a collision and that he was not indifferent to Mr McKinlay’s safety. He said he did not know that Mr McKinlay would be killed and that he was in control of the Rib.

‘The boat didn’t turn,’ he sobbed.

He said the wheel was fully to the right, although the Rib turned sharply left.

When asked if he put the brakes on, he said: ‘I can’t remember what I did.’

The jury also heard that Brown went to Mr McKinlay’s funeral in July, along with everybody who had been on the boat that day except one.

They also heard that Mr McKinlay’s widow Francesca has since started proceedings in the civil court to recover her losses.

Both Brown and the vessel were fully insured and Brown has admitted negligence, in the civil court, over Mr McKinlay’s death, jurors heard.

Paul Carey, 52, of Chatsworth Road, Southampton, who was paid to be the skipper of True Blue, is also on trial charged with driving too fast in contravention of Merchant Shipping regulations, which he denies.

He was driving the same Rib earlier that afternoon, piloting close to True Blue.

The jury heard that Brown had been friends with Mr McKinlay for more than 20 years, after they met while Brown completed work experience aged 15 at a mobile phone shop called KJC, where Mr McKinlay worked.

The men became close friends, with Mr McKinlay becoming a mentor for Brown.

Both men went on to have families with children of similar ages and had often holidayed together.

When Mr McKinlay left the mobile phone industry he set up a recruitment business called Premier Recruitment Solutions in Southampton.

Brown, of Botley Road, Curdridge, went on set up his own successful mobile phone business and in 2004, when he was 22, he formed a mobile phone business called One Com with his friend and former boss Darren Ridge. It now has 11 offices and 450 staff, headquartered in Whiteley.

Brown also has other business interests in insurance, property and marketing – employing another 50 people.

(Proceeding)