Suffolk man who crashed boat and injured partner and children in Oulton Broad is spared jail

Oulton Broad, near Lowestoft. Picture: NICK BUTCHER

Oulton Broad, near Lowestoft. Picture: NICK BUTCHER - Credit: Nick Butcher

A boat owner who crashed into a moored motor cruiser on Oulton Broad while travelling at nearly five times the speed limit resulting in his partner and one of his children being thrown into the water has been given a suspended prison sentence.

Nicholas Barrett had been drinking prior to the late night collision, which resulted in his partner Emily Gibbs suffering multiple fractures to her skull and body his two daughters aged 10 and eight also being injured.

Miss Gibbs and one of the children spent several days in hospital.

Immediately after the collision a witness heard one of Barrett’s children screaming: “Mummy is dead” and both children were crying and had blood on their faces, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

Oliver Powell, prosecuting, said the collision happened as the family were returning home from Waveney and Oulton Broad Yacht Club during regatta week shortly before midnight on August 25 last year in a rigid inflatable boat (RIB). The RIB collided with a moored wooden motor cruiser with such force that the owner was thrown out of bed and a hole was punched in the boat.

Barrett was breathalysed after the collision and the reading was one and a half times the limit for drinking and driving on a road.

Mr Powell claimed the RIB, which was also badly damaged, had been travelling at between 25 and 30mph, which was four to five times the 6mph speed limit.

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Barrett, 44, of Waveney Hill, Oulton Broad, admitted failing to take all reasonable steps to ensure the boat was operated in a safe manner and was given a nine month prison sentence suspended for 12 months and ordered to do 120 hours unpaid work. He was also ordered to pay £15,000 costs.

Judge John Devaux said the alcohol Barrett had consumed would have impaired his judgement and affected his competence at the helm of the boat.

In his opinion Barrett had been travelling well in excess of the 18mph he admitted and he hadn’t moderated his speed to take into account the amount of alcohol he had consumed.

Jude Durr, for Barrett, said his client, who has no previous convictions, was an experienced and competent sailor and that Barrett only accepted travelling at 18mph and didn’t accept he was incapable through drink.

He added that Miss Gibbs didn’t blame him for the accident and described it as an unfortunate accident.

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