Man cleared of manslaughter in Truro as DfT plans alcohol limits for leisure mariners

A man who was found to be two-times the legal blood-alchohol limit for driving on the road has been cleared of manslaughter and GBH at a court in Truro.

Philip Colver, 32, from Cornwall, was at the helm of his 6.5m motorboat Carrie Kate at 11pm on 16 July 2005 when he collided with a 4.5m dory with three people on board.

The owner of the dory, Benjamin Cochrane, was killed instantly as Carrie Kate was thought to ride up over his boat. The two others on board, Cochrane’s brother and a friend, were injured.

Mr Colver had previously pleaded guilty to three charges arising from breaches of the International Regulations for preventing Collisions at Sea and was sentenced to 150 hours of community service.

Yet under proposed Department for Transport plans for alchohol limits on leisure mariners, the outcome of this case could have been very different.

The proposed regulations will be applied to the navigation of vessels which are more than 7 metres (about 23ft) in length and/or capable of a maximum speed of over 7 knots. The limit of 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood will be equivalent to that already in existence for professional mariners.

The RYA opposes the proposals. CEO Rod Carr stated: “we believe that new legislation is unnecessary because there is still no evidence of the existence of an extensive problem relating to alcohol and boating.”

The organisation has raised several issues relating to the proposal, including:
* The precise clarification of which boats will be affected and in what circumstances.
* Clarification of which persons on board boats will be affected
* How the legislation is going enforced and by whom.

But Mr Carr conceded that, given the seriousness of the government’s intent the RYA would “work hard with the DfT to ensure that sensible measures are put in place.”

Commenting after Mr Colver’s court appearance in Truro, Detective Inspector Simon Selley, Devon and Cornwall Constabulary said:
“As in all cases that are brought before the courts involving alcohol, whether it is boats on the water, or cars on the road, there are no winners or losers. Many people can be affected by the outcome, and we would strongly encourage everyone to think first before making a decision that could affect the rest of their lives and others.”