Brokerage firm on trial after woman plummets 15-20ft from yacht at Port Solent

A file aerial photo of Port Solent from circa 2003
A file aerial photo of Port Solent from circa 2003

A WOMAN suffered a bleed on the brain and punctured a lung when she plummeted 15-20ft when she lost her balance climbing down a ladder from a yacht stored ashore, a court heard.

Portsmouth Crown Court heard how Marion Frankish, 60, was leaving The Endeavour, a Moody 44 yacht, which had been placed on scaffolding at Port Solent when she fell from the boat.

Mrs Frankish’s husband Ian yesterday told the court how he was in ‘total shock’ when his wife fell from the boat, marketed to them by brokerage firm Ancasta International Boat Sales.

The company is on trial accused of failing to carry out its business while ensuring people not in its employment were not exposed to health and safety risks.

Giving evidence Mr Frankish, 62, said: ‘I saw Marion making a move to go down, I couldn’t see her feet because I was crouched down, she made a noise and was just gone.

‘I was in total shock. I looked down and saw blood pouring from her head and the next thing I was by her side staring into her eyes.

‘She wasn’t breathing and I was shouting her name over and over again.

‘It was very distressing.’

Prosecuting, Jamas Hodivala said Mrs Frankish, from Hindhead, was left with a broken back and collar bone, a bleed on the brain, a shattered wrist, a punctured lung, seven fractured ribs – four of which were fractured in two places.

She also suffered multiple skull fractures.

Jurors heard Mrs Frankish had first had difficulty climbing the extendable ladder to enter the boat. It had been erected by Ancasta’s employee Michael Christie.

Speaking at the trial, Mrs Frankish said she spent four weeks at Southampton General Hospital after the fall on November 28, 2015, and the incident had changed her life.

She said: ‘I'm a very different person to how I was before.

‘I’m anxious about everything, even happy events stress me out, meeting people, going out of the house.

‘I don’t sleep terribly well and I double check everything.'

Mr Hodivala told jurors Ancasta employee Mr Christie erected the ladder so it was protruding slightly above the boat’s sugar scoop. The bottom of the scoop would be level in the water if the boat was afloat.

The prosecutor said the company’s 2015 risk assessment on working at height on boats ashore states an access ladder must be one metre above the stepping off point.   

The prosecution’s case is Mrs Frankish had nothing to hold on to while exiting the ladder, but if it had been extended further she would have.

Mr Christie, who has 16 years of experience, met the couple at The Slipway offices at Port Solent.

He said: ‘I extended the ladder to the correct height, in my opinion, for access to that boat.

‘You have to work out yourself how people can get on and off safely.

’It wasn’t feasible to extend it one metre above the sugar scoop because it would have blocked access to the boat.’

Mr Christie said the safest way to get on the boat would have been by stepping to the right of the ladder once at the top of it, and coming down the same way.

But Mrs Frankish said she was never told to do this and the natural route seemed to be the left.

Mr Christie said he probably would have had a discussion with the couple about how to use the ladder.

Mr Christie said he had shown people around the boat ‘less than 10’ times and said there were no problems using the ladder in the other instances.

(Proceeding)