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Saturday 16 December 2017

O'Dea nephew left to drown after jump from boat, court told

Tom Worden

A nephew of former Defence Minister Willie O'Dea drowned after jumping from a party boat in Spain because the captain ignored passengers' pleas to stop and help, a court heard yesterday.

Friends of Brazil Bourke begged Captain Jose Ribas (45) for assistance after the 21-year-old and a pal leaped from the top deck during a drunken cruise off Ibiza. But the skipper failed to call the coastguard and sailed more than a mile back to port leaving Mr Bourke to his fate, prosecutors said.

Horrified friends who tried desperately to throw him lifesavers from the deck found they were tied to the boat, they claimed.

Yesterday the parents of the victim came face to face with the Spanish captain in court as he stood trial for manslaughter.

Farmer John Bourke and his wife Mary travelled to Spain from their home in Hospital, Co Limerick, sitting just feet from the defendant during the one-day trial at Criminal Court number two in Ibiza.

State prosecutor Ruth Negreti told the panel of two judges that Mr Bourke's death was "preventable" had the captain acted differently on the night of the tragedy four years ago.

She said he was fully aware that two men were overboard more than a mile from the port, "but at no time was he concerned by the situation, nor did he stop to help".

Private prosecutor Luis Berastani Diez, representing the victim's family, said the captain had "abandoned" Mr Bourke.

The prosecutors called for Mr Ribas to be jailed for four years for manslaughter and be fined e18,000 for failing to help.


The captain claimed he was only aware one person was overboard, and insists he saw that person swim safely to the shore. Mr Bourke, a student of Limerick Institute of Technology, was on holiday with a group of friends when they took the four-hour sunset cruise from San Antonio on July 31, 2006.

He had taken ecstasy and cocaine and had drunk heavily on the night he died, the court heard.

Five friends of the victim appeared as prosecution witnesses at the court during the seven-hour hearing.

The group of around 12 friends were among 186 revellers on the glass-bottomed Captain Nemo. At 9pm it began its voyage back to the port with all the party-goers on board. Shortly afterwards Mr Bourke's friend Patrick Bourke decided to jump from the top deck after being dared by another member of the group, Derek McGrath, the court was told.

Patrick Bourke, who admitted taking a tablet of ecstasy and having six or seven alcoholic drinks earlier in the night, was rescued by a passing boat after 90 minutes in the sea. But Mr Bourke's body was found washed up near the shore the following morning.

Patrick Bourke told the court: "I thought the boat was going to stop because we were so far out. It was travelling very fast and within a few seconds I couldn't see it. It all happened so quickly. When I realised it wasn't going to stop I took off my sandals and began to swim back. I didn't see anyone throw any lifesavers. The boat made no attempt to stop."

Another friend, Garry Henebry, said he pleaded with the captain for help. He said: "I tried to throw in a lifesaver but they were all tied up and I couldn't see any life vests."

The two judges are expected to return their verdicts and pass sentence if he is found guilty in about a fortnight.

Irish Independent

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