Man sentenced following boat crash on Oulton Broad which left partner with fractured skull after she was thrown into the water

Oulton Broad, Lowestoft. Picture: NICK BUTCHER

Oulton Broad, Lowestoft. Picture: NICK BUTCHER - Credit: Nick Butcher

A boat owner who crashed into a moored motor cruiser on Oulton Broad, resulting in his partner and one of his children being thrown into the water, was travelling at nearly five times the speed limit, a court has heard.

Nicholas Barrett had been drinking prior to the late night collision which resulted in his partner Emily Gibbs suffering a fractured skull and his two daughters, 10, and eight also being injured.

Ipswich Crown Court was told immediately after the collision a witness heard one of Barrett's children screaming: 'Mummy is dead' and both children were crying and had blood on their faces.

Oliver Powell, prosecuting at Ipswich Crown Court, said the collision happened as the family were returning home from Waveney and Oulton Broad Yacht Club during regatta week shortly before midnight on August 25 last year.

Their rigid inflatable boat (RIB) collided with a moored wooden motor cruiser with such force that the owner was thrown out of bed and a hole was punched in the side of the boat.

Barrett was breathalysed and the reading was one and a half times the limit for drinking and driving on a road.

Mr Powell said the RIB, which was also badly damaged, had been travelling at between 25 and 30 mph which was four to five times the 6mph speed limit imposed by a by-law.

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Barrett, 44, of Waveney Hill, Oulton Broad admitted failing to take all reasonable steps to ensure the boat was operated in a safe manner and was given a nine month prison sentence suspended for 12 months.

He was also ordered to do 120 hours unpaid work and pay £15,000 costs.

Judge John Devaux said the alcohol Barrett had consumed would have impaired his judgement and affected his competence at the helm of the boat.

In his opinion Barrett had been travelling well in excess of the 18mph he admitted and he hadn't moderated his speed to take into account the amount of alcohol he had consumed.

Jude Durr for Barrett said his client, who has no previous convictions, was an experienced and competent sailor.

He said Barrett only accepted travelling at 18mph and didn't accept he was incapable through drink.

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