Manslaughter sentence for speedboat accident

February 18, 2013

By Christine Keighery

A Newry man was sentenced last week for the manslaughter of six year old Stuart Wilson in a speedboat accident in 2010.

Thirty seven year old Damian McCann, Sandy Hill was sentenced to nine months imprisonment suspended for three years after pleading guilty to the manslaughter of the schoolboy at Cranfield on Bank Holiday Monday, 30th August 2010.

Stuart tragically died after he or the towrope connected to the wakeboard carrying him was struck by a Maxim craft piloted by Mr McCann. The six year old was being towed by his family’s Valliant craft along Cranfield beach at the time.

The court deemed that Mr McCann had been negligent and in breach of his care of duty to others on the sea by raising the trim on his boat, which caused the bow to rise, obstructing his view.  The accident happened after the accused had failed to see either the boat that was towing the little boy or the child himself.

Passing sentence, Judge Finnegan said he had taken into account the defendant’s guilty plea and “genuine remorse” as well as a pre-sentence report which viewed McCann as no risk to the public. The judge also referred to three precedent maritime cases in his sentencing.

Following the culmination of the tragic case, the PSNI and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) issued a reminder to those who use coastal waters for recreation to be aware of regulations and use the same care and consideration expected on the roads.

Captain Jeremy Smart, the MCA’s Head of Enforcement, said, “There are rules that govern how craft are to be driven and exercising common sense, particularly when powerful boats are involved, is essential. There are numerous approved training courses available covering different types of craft and levels of competence and we would urge all users to get themselves properly trained.”

PSNI Sergeant Kelly Anne Warnock, echoed those sentiments, urging everyone who uses the water for recreational purposes to ensure they are knowledgeable of legislation and regulations governing the water and to exercise extreme care and caution on the water and in the vicinity of others.

In a statement issued by Stuart’s family following the sentencing, they said they remained “devastated” by Stuart’s death but “relieved” that the court case had come to an end.

“Stuart was a very outgoing child who loved football, outdoor activities and playing with his many friends. Nothing can bring Stuart back to us but we hope now that the proper authorities will study the legislation and regulations around maritime activity and support the Maritime and Coast Guard Agency’s call for stricter legislation.

“We would like to thank all of those who have supported us through this lengthy and difficult time. Stuart will always be in our thoughts. Gone but not forgotten.”