Jury sees video of boat crash accused weeping in police interview

Aaron Brown. Picture: Solent News & Photo Agency
Aaron Brown. Picture: Solent News & Photo Agency
Elm Grove. Picture: Google Maps

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A BUSINESSMAN accused of killing his friend of 20 years in a boating crash while ‘showing off’ wept as he was spoken to by police in footage shown to a jury.

Video played to the jury of a voluntary interview showed how Aaron Brown sobbed as police spoke to him at Southampton police station.

Ryan McKinlay

Ryan McKinlay

He is on trial at Winchester Crown Court accused of the manslaughter by gross negligence of Ryan McKinlay, 36, from Gosport, after crashing a Williams Turbojet 325 into a larger boat, the True Blue.

A statement read to jurors from his widow Francesca told how Brown told her the ‘wheel wouldn’t turn’ on the boat he was piloting at the time of the crash.

On the second day of the trial, jurors were shown four brief clips by Brown’s barrister Trevor Burke QC.

In a written statement read out by his solicitor Theresa Tang, Brown said: ‘Ryan was one of my best friends.

‘I have known him for over 20 years.

‘I can’t believe he is no longer here. I’m in shock.’

The statement also said: ‘There came a time when I piloted the Turbojet with Ryan as a passenger.

‘An accident occurred where the jet rib came into contact with the boat.

‘I remember being unable to breathe.

‘After the impact I don’t know what happened to Ryan.’

Dad-of-one Mr McKinlay died on June 19, 2015, in Osborne Bay, off the Isle of Wight, when a Williams Turbojet 325 tender piloted by Brown ‘violently’ crashed into the larger boat True Blue, where a party of more than a dozen were gathered.

Brown is accused of driving the smaller boat too fast and too close, causing the death of his friend Mr McKinlay, prosecutor Nick Tucker has told jurors.

This morning Mr Tucker told jurors Brown told Mr McKinlay’s widow Francesca the ‘wheel wouldn’t turn’.

In a police statement read by Mr Tucker, she said: ‘On the evening of June 19 I went to St Mary’s Hospital which is where Ryan was taken to and after he had been confirmed as having died.

‘I recall speaking to Aaron Brown in a room at the hospital.

‘I recall very clearly that I asked Aaron what had happened.

‘He said to me the “wheel wouldn’t turn”.

‘I’m sure that he said this twice while he said this he was crying.

‘I remember that he had a bump or a cut on his head.

‘He was sitting down and I was standing up, I was slightly looking down at him and his head was on to the left side of my chest and had an arm around him.’

She added: ‘This was something that was discussed at the time amongst family and friends.’

Jurors were told yesterday the crash left Mr McKinlay hitting the swimming platform at the back of the True Blue, causing fatal chest injuries.

Brown was thrown head-over-heels from the smaller boat on to the swimming platform, video played to the jury showed.

WhatsApp messages between Brown and Mr McKinlay in the days before the crash were also read to the jury.

‘The Williams Jet is fun though. Last time the rope got caught underneath it,’ one message from Brown said.

Another said: ‘I was thinking Osborne Bay for some fun and a couple of drinks in Cowes before heading back.’

Matthew Hornsby, director of Williams Perfomance Tenders, which manufactures the water jet-powered tender, said its maximum speed with one passenger would be cut by about five or six miles per hour, down to in the 30s.

Giving evidence he said the boat planes, skimming the water, at around 18mph.

He added: ‘You generally wouldn’t come in closer to 10 metres to a solid object.’

Asked about ‘buzzing’, when the boat is driven to send up spray of water, Mr Hornsby said: ‘You would never drive at an object, not an immovable fixed object.

‘You don’t need to if you’re going to throw a curtain of spray up.

‘If your intention is to throw up a curtain of spray the procedure is to drive past the object, you don’t point the boat at it.

‘You steer the boat to avoid a collision course and at an appropriate point turn and that would have the affect of throwing the spray from the jet nozzle.’

Outlining the case yesterday, Mr Tucker said that Brown ignored his training by sailing too close to another vessel and added: ‘He ignored that advice (in order) to show off.

‘He chose to pilot the boat towards a 38-tonne cruiser at something like 30mph with his friend sitting at the front of the boat and hanging on, and as a result Ryan McKinlay was killed.’

Brown, 34, Botley Road, Curdridge, denies manslaughter by gross negligence.

The court heard the minimum required standard for a pilot of the tender was a Royal Yachting Association level two, which jurors were told Brown had been trained in.

Mr Tucker added: ‘The prosecution say that Ryan McKinlay would not have died that day had Mr Brown not driven the boat so fast and at such proximity to another vessel.’

The 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.

Mr Tucker said: ‘He was driving the same boat at speed which we say was unsafe and which contributed to a climate in which Mr Brown was encouraged to do the same.’

(Proceeding)