Judge orders that boat be destroyed
A BOAT hired out by a retired fisherman from Fethard-on-Sea was not seaworthy, had rotten planking, and was unlicensed, a court was told.
Declan Hearne, aged 76, who had initially denied four charges relating to his fishing boat MV Baginbun, subsequently changed his plea to guilty on two of the four counts: one of operating without a licence and the other of operating an unsafe boat.
After convicting Hearne at Wexford Circuit Criminal Court, Judge Barry Hickson ordered that the boat should be destroyed.
On the second day of the trial last Thursday, Defence Counsel John Peart, S.C., said that a guilty plea could be entered on two counts, with a nolle prosqui entered on the remaining two.
Hearne, of Innyard House, Fethard-on-Sea, had pleaded not guilty to having been in command of an unseaworthy vessel in Fethard-on-Sea on August 29, 2010 and also on August 18, 2009, and July 18, 2009.
He had also denied having been in command of an unlicensed passenger boat on August 29, 2010, at Fethard-on-Sea.
Prosecuting Counsel Philip Sheahan, B.L., had told the jury that Hearne was in command of a sea vessel which was in poor condition and unlicensed at a location in County Wexford .
Defence Counsel, James Peart, B.L., said the defendant is now 76 years old and liked to go out in his boat, but did not want to go alone. He denied categorically that he received monies from anyone for the trips.
Neil Forde, a Nautical Surveyor, told the court the MV Baginbun had no record of a passenger boat licence being applied for, and they had no record of one ever being issued..
When the MV Baginbun arrived back at the pier on the day in question, there were a number of passengers on board. He spoke with the men, got their names, with the leader of the group, Yaris Austrums stating that he arranged the trip with Mr. Hearne.
He said he spoke with Declan Hearne and cautioned him, saying he was carrying passengers without a licence. Mr. Forde said he could see obvious rot in the planking in the hull of the boat and he spoke with the Department's engineer in Cork. As a result, an inspection of the boat was carried out and as a consequence of the condition of the vehicle there was no option but to detain the vessel.
He also said there was no passenger boat licence in place for that period, never a licence in place, and a licence never applied for.
When the trial was about to resume the following day, Mr. Peart, said a plea of guilty was being entered to counts two and four.
Judge Hickson adjourned sentencing to June 18. He ordered that the boat be destroyed before then and that evidence must also be produced showing the boat had been destroyed.