Page last updated at 15:39 GMT, Monday, 8 February 2010

Negligence blamed for death of party-goer on Thames

Negligence by the captain of a Thames pleasure cruiser led to the death of a passenger who was at a party on board, the Old Bailey has heard.

Jay Murillo, 32, of Southwark, south London, was leaving the fancy dress event on the Hurlingham in 2008 when he fell into the river.

He did not see a gap between the boat and the pier when the vessel was not properly berthed, it was alleged.

The captain, William Britton, 62, of Sidcup, denies manslaughter.

He also denies engaging in conduct likely to cause death or serious injury.

The ship's mate, Ryan Sandall, 24, of Victoria Dock, east London, has already pleaded guilty to manslaughter through gross negligence.

Five-day search

Mr Murillo, a Mexican national, had dressed as a pirate at the event, which was held for about 120 staff of the Leon restaurant chain.

It took rescuers five days to find Mr Murillo's body in the river at Westminster Pier.

If they had carried out their duties properly, Mr Murillo would never have been exposed to danger
Louis Mably, prosecuting lawyer, on the captain and the ship's mate

Prosecutor Louis Mably said Mr Britton was at fault because he did not supervise the securing of the boat or the departure of the passengers.

"The negligence of the captain and mate was the cause of Mr Murillo falling into the Thames," Mr Mably said.

"If they had carried out their duties properly, Mr Murillo would never have been exposed to danger."

Last June a report by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch said the skipper had been "distracted" and the vessel's safety-management systems were "poor".

The trial continues.

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