Boating expert says skipper was not driving dangerously before fatal sea crash

A boating expert with more than 1,000 sea miles under his belt has defended the actions of a skipper accused of driving dangerously in the run-up to the death of a businessman.

Thursday, 16th March 2017, 12:28 pm
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 11:06 am
A still taken from footage issued by Hampshire police of a Williams Turbojet 325 rigid inflatable boat (Rib) being driven by Aaron Brown

Paul Carey, 52, of Chatsworth Road, Southampton, appeared at Winchester Crown Court today charged with driving too fast in contravention of Merchant Shipping regulations.

Carey was driving a Williams Turbojet 325 near a 62ft motor cruiser boat called True Blue in Osborne Bay off the Isle of Wight earlier on the same day that Ryan McKinlay, 36, of Gosport, died.

Mr McKinlay was a passenger onboard the turbojet, a type of Rib, later that day while it was being driven by Aaron Brown, 34, of Botley Road, Curdridge, when it collided with True Blue.

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Aaron Brown, who is on trial for manslaughter Picture: Solent News

Mr McKinlay, a friend of Brown’s, died at the scene on June 19, 2015.

Brown is charged with manslaughter by gross negligence, which he denies.

Jon Mendez, an experienced boating instructor, who also owns Mendez Marine in Hamble, gave his expert opinion about how the RIB was being driven after watching video evidence.

Mr Mendez, a trainer and examiner for the Royal Yachting Association, said: ‘They were having nice afternoon. People were enjoying themselves on the water and I don’t think he was acting unduly dangerously.’

Aaron Brown, who is on trial for manslaughter Picture: Solent News

Mr Mendez said he had experience of driving the same make and model turbojet.

He added: ‘It’s highly manoeuvrable, it is very dextrous and it can turn on a sixpence when asked.’

The jury was shown footage of Carey driving past True Blue.

Mr Mendez estimated them to be travelling at approximately 15 to 16 knots - or 17 to 18 miles per hour - and approximately eight to nine foot away from True Blue.

He said: ‘Mr Carey was asked to give a fun ride to the people, to me he did so and he drove in quite a sensible manner… He was never aiming the boat and the sea conditions were not enough to deflect it… His momentum was going away from True Blue.’

He said that Carey had several options for avoiding True Blue despite being so close, such as steering away or immediately closing the throttle.

Mr Mendez added: ‘He has obviously intended to turn to the left away from True Blue, that’s his emergency get-out-of-jail card and he’s already worked that out. That’s why he has done it.’

The court will hear more evidence this afternoon in relation to the interview given by Carey at the time.