Man who jumped into River Yare admits he was extremely foolish
- Credit: David Hannant
A man who jumped into a swollen river on the night of the tidal surge two weeks ago was a marine expert checking levels, his solicitor told magistrates.
Stephen Wood, 43. of St George's Road, Great Yarmouth, leapt into the river near Haven Bridge in the town on Friday, January, 13, less than half an hour before the tide was expected to peak, following a verbal dispute with a police officer.
Wood, a marine salvage consultant, appeared in Yarmouth Magistrates' Court this morning, pleading guilty to obstructing a constable in the execution of her duty.
Magistrates heard how at around 9.10pm, Wood climbed onto the river wall near the North Quay car park, and was instructed by the police officer to move away. Wood questioned 'by what power' he was being told to move, before jumping in.
Andrew Nickerson, prosecuting, said: 'That Friday is a date that will be remembered in Great Yarmouth as there was a great deal of police involvement across the area in keeping safe the people coming to see how high tides were. There were bystanders including children watching and the constable described feeling shocked.'
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Mr Nickerson told the court Wood had jumped onto a tyre on the river wall, before being washed away by the tide, and then grabbing the nearest safety ring, with his actions prompting angry reactions from the crowd. Officers rushed to grab hold of him and hauled him to safety.
Rebecca Utton, mitigating, said: 'He is a highly intelligent man when it comes to river matters. Over the last ten years he has worked extensively on disaster situations including Hurricane Katrina and has been nominated for bravery awards for the work he has undertaken.
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'He readily accepts he was extremely foolish and how the officer must have felt not having the knowledge of tides he did, which put her in an awful situation. He was sure the tides would not reach the levels predicted and was going to check.'
Chairman of the bench Darren Gilkes said: 'This action has cost you your good character. While you knew there was no risk but the officer did not.'
Wood was fined £150 and ordered to pay the court £85 in costs and a £30 victim surcharge.
A public order charge of causing harrassment, alarm or distress, for which Wood was arrested, was dropped.