The Malta Independent 24 September 2020, Thursday

Boater cleared of involuntary homicide: Victim was swimming outside safe zone

Tuesday, 15 September 2020, 13:50 Last update: about 8 days ago

A Gozitan boater man has been cleared of involuntary homicide after a court ruled that the victim had been swimming outside the designated swimming area.

The case took place on 19 June 2016, when 76-year-old Briton Allan Michael Stanley lost his life after he was hit by a boat propeller at Hondoq ir-Rummien Bay in Gozo.

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At the time it was reported that the boat owner, Matthew Grech, had taken the injured man to shore but Stanley lost his life on the way to the Gozo General Hospital.

Grech, from Nadur, who was 21 at the time of the accident, was charged with involuntary homicide and giving false testimony.

The court, presided over by Magistrate Joe Mifsud, noted that Allan Michael Stanley certainly lost his life as a result of being hit by the propeller.

It also found, however, that the victim had been swimming in an area used to anchor boats, away from the designated safe swimming zones.

The victim’s wife, Diane Georgina Stanley, testified that her husband usually went to swim on the left-hand side of the bay. She would often warn him not to go too far out since he had a heart condition and there were usually boats in the area.

On the day of the accident, her husband had wandered out further than usual and was swimming close to a dinghy.

A friend of the woman confirmed her testimony while other eyewitnesses said the victim had been diving without the use of a marker buoy.

Grech was anchoring his boat in an area between 50 to 70 metres from the shore and 100 metres away from the swimming zone, the court noted. There were a number of buoys in the area, which could have obscured the victim.

The court noted that, while “swimming or snorkelling outside a swimmers’ zone is neither illegal nor prohibited, the close proximity to boats transiting the area increases the risk to snorkelers and swimmers who venture outside the established (safe) zone.”

The shortcomings of the victim contributed to the accident, the court ruled.

The police had also charged Grech with giving false evidence, saying that he had initially claimed the victim had been hit by another boat. The charge was dismissed since Grech had not been assisted by a lawyer when he gave his statement. 

He was cleared of both charges.

Inspector Charles Bernard Grech prosecuted. Lawyers Joe Giglio and Richard Sladden assisted Grech.

 


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