Highlands & Islands

Aquila capsize witness thought 'he was not believed'

Anglian Sovereign coastguard boat at the site of the sinking of Aquila
Image caption Anglian Sovereign coastguard boat at the scene of the sinking

A man who witnessed a scallop dredger capsizing has told an inquiry that coastguards did not appear to believe him when he called to raise the alarm.

Three fishermen, all from Maryport, Cumbria, died when the Aquila overturned off Ardnamurchan Point on 20 July 2009. One crewman survived.

Outdoor sports instructor James Lancashire said he alerted the coastguard in a "cool, calm" voice.

He said: "Their response over the phone was 'oh really?'"

Skipper Tony Hayton, 45, died along with Peter Hilton and Thomas Sanderson, both aged 52. Tim Rowley, 33, also from Maryport, survived.

Mr Lancashire, 36, who works at Outward Bound Ullswater in Cumbria, told the fatal accident inquiry (FAI) in Fort William Sheriff Court on Wednesday he was on a family holiday at the time.

He said he was on a beach when he saw the Aquila's blue and white hull heaving up and down in the sea and then only its brown bottom and propeller.

Mr Lancashire said he could not get a signal on his mobile phone so cycled four miles back to his holiday accommodation to make the call.

He said: "It just appeared from their attitude they weren't taking my call seriously, not believing me when I told them I had just seen a fishing boat turn upside down and I could see the bottom of it and its propeller.

"Their response over the phone was 'oh really?'

"Maybe it was because I was speaking in a cool, calm voice and not an excited panicky one."

Mr Lancashire said it was some time later before three coastguard officers arrived at his accommodation.

He said one officer confirmed on a radio to their base that a boat seemed to have turned over.

The inquiry continues.

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