Beccles woman ordered to pay compensation for ferry damage

A Beccles woman who drunkenly got on a charity ferry boat and damaged and lost equipment has been ordered by magistrates to pay for the damage she caused.

Laura Westlake pleaded guilty yesterday to causing �150 of criminal damage to the Big Dog Ferry which is operated along the River Waveney between Beccles and the Locks Inn at Geldeston by the Beccles Lido Limited charity to raise funds for itself.

Lowestoft Magistrates' Court heard Westlake, 45, of Fair Close, had clambered aboard the ferry at its mooring at Beccles Lido on the night of July 15 after she had been drinking heavily.

Colette Griffiths, prosecuting, said: 'The defendant climbed aboard the ferry and caused the ferry damage. Blood was found on the ferry and a result it was confirmed as the defendant's DNA.'

The court heard the blood was found after Westlake, who had previous convictions, banged her head and split it open on the ferry after she had lost an oar, damaged a battery and dropped the anchor.

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She had been drinking earlier at her the graves of her grandparents and she had described herself to police as being 'paralytic' when she committed her offence.

James Hartley, mitigating, said Westlake was bi-polar and had a number of issues in her life relating to bereavements and her childhood.

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She also had a drinking problem which she was now tackling by not drinking since the offence and by seeking help.

Mr Hartley said: 'She is determined to do something about this drink problem that has plagued her life in recent times.'

The court also heard the day after causing the damage Westlake had left at note by the site of the ferry with an apology and her details but it was said the note was not found.

She was also expressed great regret for what she had done.

Lowestoft magistrates ordered Westlake to pay �150 to the Beccles Lido Limited and said she should pay no costs due to her means.

The Big Dog Ferry can carry up to 12 passengers and offers a tranquil 40 minute journey with people enjoying the chance to spot kingfishers, marsh harriers and otters.

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