Skipper who fell asleep at the helm fined in Truro magistrates
The skipper of a French fishing boat who fell asleep at the wheel causing it to beach off the Lizard has been fined more than £5,000 at Truro Magistrates court this morning.
Giles LeMaitre, 38, from Matigon, France, was in control of the Scuderia when it became stranded off the Lizard Peninsular at 10.30pm last Wednesday evening.
Mr LeMaitre pleaded guilty to two charges, failing to discharge his duties correctly and not keeping a proper look out.
The French skipper will pay £5,600 in fines and total of £5,555 in legal costs and victims surcharge.
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Mr LeMaitre admitted to falling asleep whist navigating and watch keeping the 20 litre trawler after sending his other four crew members below deck to sleep.
He had only had one hour sleep the night before and was taking codeine medication to help with leg pains the court heard. However, he was found fit to undertake the fishing trip by his employer.
None of the crew were hurt during the incident, but around 10 tonnes of diesel were leaked in to picturesque Lankidden cove.
The trawler was finally removed five days later.
The court took into consideration Mr LeMaitre's full cooperation with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) as well as his early guilty plea when deciding on the fine.
Tony Heslop, the MCA's area operations manager for the South West, said: "There are no excuses for the person responsible for navigating the vessel to fall asleep on the job. More so when that person is the skipper who has taken medication that could impact on him staying awake and alert.
“He could have called one of the other crew members to come to the wheelhouse and take over.
"This was a serious incident which could have had much more severe consequences."
He added that the incident had not caused long term damage to the coast line.
Mr LeMaitre has worked as a fisherman for 15 years, and was promoted to the position of master last year.
Charles Hattersley from Ashfords solicitors who was defending Mr LeMaitre said: “it was a genuine accident. The case has been handled fairly and well by the magistrate court.
“A fine was inevitable and in the circumstances not unreasonable and will be paid promptly. Prior to this offence the skipper had an unblemished record.
“He will now proceecd to sea and continue to act as a first class French trawler skipper.”