Page last updated at 20:58 GMT, Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Yacht deaths 'caused' by tanker

Crescent Beaune
There was no lookout on duty on the Crescent Beaune

A yacht that sank off the Isle of Wight causing the death of its crew could have been hit by an oil tanker, a court has heard.

Three sailors died when Ouzo vanished in the early hours of 21 August 2006.

Michael Hubble, 62, of Kent, officer of the watch on a P&O ferry that night, denies three counts of manslaughter.

His defence team told Winchester Crown Court that the ferry did not cause the Ouzo to sink, but the yacht had later crossed the path of an oil tanker.

No lookout

The captain of the Crescent Beaune, Alistair Crichton, admitted to the jury that he had not been on the bridge at that time and had broken the law by not having a lookout on duty.

The court heard that data analysis from the maritime college in South Tyneside, showed that the oil tanker and the 25ft (7.6m) Ouzo would have reached the same point at 0140 BST.

The yacht's passing near the 37,500-tonne P&O car ferry Pride of Bilbao, which was witnessed by Mr Hubble and the lookout Dave Smith, would have happened 33 minutes earlier, the court heard.

The three men who died - Jason Downer, Rupert Saunders and James Meaby
Left to right - Jason Downer, Rupert Saunders and James Meaby all died

The results were gathered from analysing the movement of the bodies in the water, radar data, and the Ouzo's likely route from Bembridge Harbour.

Prosecutors claim the ferry narrowly missed or collided with the yacht Ouzo.

Mr Hubble, of Capel-le-Ferne, Folkestone, denies manslaughter through gross negligence and engaging in conduct likely to cause death or serious injury.

James Meaby and Rupert Saunders, both 36 and from Tooting, south London, and Jason Downer, 35, from Kent, all drowned when their yacht was lost.

The trial continues.

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