Man charged with manslaughter over deaths of four sailors at sea

The Cheeki Rafiki yacht

The Cheeki Rafiki yacht

‘I just remember a white cloud and a huge, horrific noise’

The director of the management company for a yacht that capsized with the loss of four lives has been charged with manslaughter.

The 40ft Cheeki Rafiki lost its keel more than 700 miles from Nova Scotia as the crew were returning it from Antigua to the UK in May 2014.

On board were skipper Andrew Bridge, 22, from Farnham in Surrey, as well as crew members James Male, 23, from Southampton, Steve Warren, 52, and Paul Goslin, 56, both from Somerset.

Now the Maritime & Coastguard Agency and the Crown Prosecution Service have announced that Douglas Innes, director of Southampton-based Stormforce Coaching Limited, has been charged with four counts of manslaughter by gross negligence. The company has also been charged with a shipping offence.

A Coastguard spokesman said: ‘The MCA has carried out an investigation lasting more than two years into the circumstances surrounding the loss of the Cheeki Rafiki in May 2014.

‘Following that investigation, a decision has been made by the CPS to bring charges against Douglas Innes and Stormforce Coaching Limited.’

Ian Harris, from the CPS Wessex, said: ‘We have authorised the charging of Douglas Innes with four counts of gross negligence manslaughter and Douglas Innes and Stormforce Coaching Limited with one charge contrary to Section 100 Merchant Shipping Act 1995.

Innes and a representative of Stormforce Coaching Limited will appear at Southampton Magistrates’ Court on November 3.

The US Coastguard was criticised by Portsmouth sailor Robin Knox-Johnston for calling off its search after two days but after protests from family and friends and an intervention by the British government, the search was re-started and the boat found – but without any sign of the four men.

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