Nigel Lickley QC leading David Richards prosecuted the case of R v Innes and Stormforce Coaching Ltd (Cheeki Rafiki) at Winchester Crown Court
This case concerned the deaths of 4 sailors. They were the crew of the Cheeki Rafiki sailing from Antigua to the United Kingdom in May 2014. The vessel capsized when 1000 miles off the east coast of the USA after her keel became detached following the failure of the keel/hull attachment.
Mr Innes was the managing agent for Cheeki Rafiki. His business Stormforce Coaching Ltd ran her as a commercial charter for races and cruising. The case against them was that they had failed properly to maintain the vessel, to have her inspected when they should and to run her safely.
The case involved expert evidence from the USA, France and the UK. The prosecution drew on expertise in metallurgy, yacht design, weather and yacht routing/support around the globe as well as survivability in the open sea. There was extensive evidence as to the systems for the regulation of the commercial yachting sector. There was detailed analysis of the effect and interpretation of merchant shipping regulations. The US Navy and US Coast Guard gave evidence. Despite the vessel never having been recovered, Nigel Lickley QC and David Richards worked with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and the CPS to build a strong case against both Mr Innes and the company.
It was one of the most complex cases to be heard before the Crown Court in recent years.
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