Ship crash captain jailed for a year

Published Thursday, 31 May 2012
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A captain who was drunk at the helm of a ship when he collided with a passenger ferry in Belfast Lough has been jailed for a year.

Ship crash captain jailed for a year
Miroslaw Pozniak has been jailed for a year. (© Pacemaker)

Miroslaw Pozniak, who is 55 and Polish, pleaded guilty last month to charges including having excess alcohol by the master of a ship.

His lawyer Sean Doran told the court the captain had been drinking six or seven bottles of beer in his cabin but said this was most uncharacteristic of him.

Judge David Smyth QC told Pozniak: "This sentence is to make it clear that the following of the regulations in relation to alcohol and also in relation to the charting and proper adherence to accepted routes is of vital importance.

"The ending of your 30-year career and the sentence effectively demonstrate that."

It comes after his vessel, the Union Moon, collided with the Stena Feronia at the Fairway buoy off the Co Down coast in March, causing £1m of damage.

Both ships were damaged but around 100 people on board escaped injury.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency, the Marine Accident Investigation Branch and the PSNI are carrying out investigations into the incident.

The father-of-two blamed his behaviour on the news of his wife's ill-health.

His defence barrister Sean Doran told the court: "There is simply no way back from this.

"His career at sea is finished."

He revealed that Pozniak had began his seafaring career in 1981 and that it had been "his dream" to work in shipping before becoming a captain or master in 2002.

Mr Doran added that through him, Pozniak wanted to apologise to his crew, the passengers and crew of the ferry and those who were involved in the rescue mission.

Captain Alan Marsh, enforcement officer with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, said the case sent out a message to other users of the sea. He said if the bulkhead of the Union Moon had been penetrated it could have sunk.

He described the crash as an "extremely serious incident" but said that collisions of this nature do not happen very often.

"We are just very grateful that there was no injury and no loss of life and no pollution," he said.

© UTV News
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