Fishing skipper fined for firing rocket flares
The skipper of a former fishing vessel has been ordered to pay £3,825 in fines and costs after pleading guilty to misleadingly firing rocket distress flares.
Matthew Yeoman, 50, from Salcombe, owner of converted fishing boat Etoile, fired a red distress rocket flare just before the boat torch light procession at the Salcombe Harbour Festival on August 8.
He was identified and spoken to by Harbour Master Ian Gibson, but later fired two further flares resulting in calls to Brixham Coastguard and a response from the Hope Cove and Salcombe lifeboats.
It was later revealed the flares used by Yeoman had expired in December 2004.
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Yeoman appeared before Torquay Magistrates' Court where he pleaded guilty and was fined £750 for the offence, ordered to pay costs of £3,000 and a victim surcharge of £75.
Peter Davies, Brixham Coastguard Rescue Centre manager, said: "There is only one purpose for discharging a distress flare and that is to request immediate assistance when in grave and imminent danger.
"This type of foolish action will undermine the purpose of distress flares, which are internationally recognised as a distress alerting signal.
"Distress flares are pyrotechnics and they rapidly ascend when fired. If handled incorrectly they can be dangerous."