Page last updated at 17:55 GMT, Thursday, 18 February 2010

Pleasure boat captain cleared of Thames drowning death

A pleasure boat skipper has been cleared of the manslaughter of a man who drowned in the River Thames.

Jay Murillo, 32, of Southwark, south London, was disembarking William Britton's boat in 2008 when he fell in.

The Old Bailey found Britton, 62, of Sidcup, not guilty of manslaughter and a breach of the Merchant Shipping Act.

He got a suspended nine month sentence and a community order after pleading guilty to attempting to pervert justice by making a false statement to police.

Pirate costume

It had been alleged Mr Murillo did not see a gap between the boat and the pier when the vessel was not properly berthed.

The ship's mate, 24-year-old Ryan Sandall, of Victoria Dock, east London, has pleaded guilty to manslaughter through gross negligence and will be sentenced next week.

Mr Murillo, a Mexican national, was in a pirate costume at the fancy dress 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.

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".

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