Two-year Maritime and Coastguard Agency investigation finds enough evidence to bring charges against the director of Stormforce Coaching.
The director of the Southampton-based charter and training company, Stormforce Coaching, has been charged with gross negligence manslaughter over the deaths of four men aboard the yacht Cheeki Rafiki in May 2014.
Doug Innes, the company director, appeared before Southampton magistrates on 3 November, where he was charged with four counts of gross negligence manslaughter. Innes entered no plea and was bailed to appear at Winchester Crown Court on 5 December. A further charge of breaking maritime shipping law has also been brought against the company.
What happened to Cheeki Rafiki? Key findings from the official MAIB report
The four men, Andrew Bridge, Steve Warren, Paul Goslin and James Male lost their lives when the Stormforce-owned and operated Beneteau 40.7 lost her keel and capsized in the North Atlantic. The crew had made contact with SAR services as well as Stormforce before the incident to say that the yacht was taking on water, however, the upturned hull was discovered with the liferaft still attached.
The MAIB report stated that the lack of damage to the rudder or any other part of the hull meant ‘it is unlikely that the vessel had struck a submerged object. Instead, a combined effect of previous groundings and subsequent repairs to its keel and matrix had possibly weakened the vessel’s structure where the keel was attached to the hull.’