Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Diving boat boss Ronald MacNeil to stand trial after death

Graeme Rae Mackie with son Daniel Image copyright Other
Image caption Graeme Mackie died during a scallop-fishing expedition

A Fife fishing boat skipper accused of health and safety failures which led to a diver drowning while scallop fishing off Fife is to stand trial in June.

Ronald MacNeil, 55, captain of the vessel "Rob Roy", denied being culpable for the errors which allegedly led to the death of the diver, Graeme Mackie.

Mr Mackie, 31, from Tranent, East Lothian, died during a scallop-fishing expedition on 13 June 2011.

Mr MacNeil, from Leven, pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

He appeared at Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court to face an indictment alleging he failed to provide proper training, supervision and adequate safety equipment in the run-up to the incident which happened near Methil docks.

It alleges that as "the master of the Rob Roy" and the person in charge of the fishing trip, he failed to ensure Mr Mackie, a father-of-one, was "suitably trained and competent" to dive on the trip.

Underwater communication

It is claimed he did not ensure a standby diver was in place to give any necessary help to Mr Mackie while he was working.

The charges add that there was no equipment for monitoring Mr Mackie while he was diving.

Prosecutors said the skipper failed "to provide equipment which could have assisted in the recovery of Mr Mackie from the water onto the vessel, while he was working, in the event of an emergency and in consequence, Graeme Mackie, whilst working as a diver on the project entered the water, resurfaced in distress and thereafter failed to resurface whereby he drowned".

Mr MacNeil is also accused of failing "to ensure the project was planned, managed and conducted in a manner which protected the health and safety of all persons taking part in it, and particularly Graeme Mackie, now deceased, who was employed by you as a diver in relation to the project".

The charges claim the boat boss failed to assess the risk the diver was exposed to and did not ensure there were "sufficient people with suitable competence".

The skipper is also alleged to have put another diver, Alexander Grafton, at risk by failing to provide him with suitable means of communicating while underwater with people on the boat.

The charge said Mr Grafton, while underwater, should also have been provided with a lifeline to a surface marker buoy.

Sheriff Alistair Thornton set a trial date for June at Dunfermline Sheriff Court.

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