York & North Yorkshire

Boat owner 'not aware' of guidelines over men's deaths

Eshcol in Whitby
Image caption The two men died while sleeping on board a fishing boat

An owner of a boat on which two men died from carbon monoxide poisoning has said he was not aware of safety guidelines.

Mark Arries, 26, from Blyth, and Edward Ide, 21, from Amble, died on the boat in Whitby harbour in January 2014.

The pair were using the grill of a gas cooker for heating as they slept.

Timothy Bowman-Davies, 44, from Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, has admitted failing to ensure the boat was operated safely.

A trial of issue before a judge is being held at Leeds Crown Court to decide if he knew the crew were using the cooker as a heating source.

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Mr Bowman-Davies told the hearing he was unaware of the risk of carbon monoxide on boats.

He also said he did not realise he needed to have the cooker serviced.

The boat, the Eshcol, had been inspected 11 weeks before the men's death by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), Mr Bowman-Davies said.

"I didn't know it [servicing the cooker] needed to be done," he told the hearing.

"I had the MCA inspector on the boat, I would have thought he would have told me."

'Tragic accident'

Mr Arries and Mr Ide had joined the Eshcol to fish for scallops on 8 January 2014 and returned to Whitby harbour in the early hours of 15 January.

They were found dead in their bunks with the gas cooker grill switched on by Mr Bowman-Davies' 15-year-old son later.

Mr Bowman-Davies told the hearing he was "devastated" by the deaths.

He added: "I don't blame anybody. It's something that happened that shouldn't have happened, a tragic accident."

Mr Bowman-Davies' son has denied telling police at the time that he and his father were aware the cooker was being used as a heat source.

The hearing continues.

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