Yachting firm boss cleared over deaths

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THE director of a yachting management company has been cleared of manslaughter of four sailors who died when the Cheeki Rafiki yacht sank mid-Atlantic.

Douglas Innes, 43, of Southampton, briefly closed his eyes and mouthed the words ‘thank you’ as the jury at Winchester Crown Court returned not guilty verdicts.

The jury had been deliberating at the retrial for 23 hours and 25 minutes.

The yacht lost its keel as the crew were returning the 40ft yacht from Antigua to the UK in May 2014 when it got into trouble 1,000 miles from the United States.

Lost at sea were all four crew members – skipper Andrew Bridge, 22, from Farnham in Surrey; James Male, 22, from Southampton; Steve Warren, 52, and Paul Goslin, 56, both from Somerset.

Innes, and his company Stormforce Coaching Limited, are to be sentenced by judge Douglas Field on May 11 after being convicted at the first trial of failing to operate the yacht in a safe manner under the Merchant Shipping Act.