Injured jet skier: 'Falmouth Harbour wanted to make an example'
A JET SKIER seriously injured in an accident in Falmouth harbour for which he still needs surgery has spoken of his relief at being cleared of wrongdoing in court.
Alan Cairns, 52, of Dracaena Avenue, had the case against him, friend Anthony Eva and a youth, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, dismissed.
They were jointly charged under the Falmouth Harbours Act with contravening a bylaw, riding the skis without care and caution and at a speed which could endanger lives or cause injury. It follows an incident last July in which Mr Cairns and the youth collided on their skis while jumping wake from boats.
Mr Cairns broke his hip and suffered other serious injuries, Truro magistrates heard.
He told the court: "I have fought for the last seven months, I have had blood clots and infections and will spend the whole summer in hospital.
"I am disabled at the moment and I don't know if that will change. If (found guilty) for something I haven't done that will be the final nail in my coffin."
Mr Cairns said afterwards he felt the three were vindicated, but accused Falmouth Harbour Commissioners (FHC), which brought the prosecution, of using them to prove a point.
He said: "I am so relieved, but they wanted to make an example of us. Any other verdict and I would have appealed."
And self-employed roofer Mr Eva, 46 of Porhan Green, added that the pair "took a big chance" representing themselves in court, but did not qualify for legal aid and could not afford a solicitor.
"Justice was done. They made us out to be criminals, but we are not."
FHC claimed the three had been behaving inappropriately in the lead-up to the accident, but magistrates said the evidence did not prove they were doing anything other "than what jet skiers do" and that they "could not be sure their actions were lacking any such caution".
They ruled it was a "tragic accident".
Mr Cairns and the youth each claimed in court they did not see the other until the last minute, when they were unable to take any avoidance action.
The youth said he got water in his eyes and although he tried to stop, could not find the reverse gear.
The magistrates dismissed the case against all three defendants.
Falmouth harbour master Mark Sansom was disappointed but had "no regrets" bringing the prosecution.
"Part of the role of the harbour authority is to take enforcement action where necessary," he said. "There was a long investigation (before it was taken to court) and it was certainly nothing personal against these three.
"It is important for all to understand that there are rules about how they conduct themselves regardless of what type of activity they are undertaking."
"This particular prosecution was hampered by an inability to apply the Collision Regulations which the Court of Appeal has previously ruled cannot be applied to jet skis for technical legal reasons.
"We understand that there has been an undertaking by the Department for Transport to remedy this situation and we will be writing to them stressing the need for this to be taken forward urgently."