Seaman’s ‘stupor’

A man who fell into a “drunken stupor” while navigating a boat escaped prison when he appeared at Lerwick Sheriff Court yesterday.

Tobjorn Riise, 37, of Undirhoul, Scalloway, pleaded guilty to culpably and recklessly navigating the Joanne B while drunk between Blacksness Pier and Trondra, endangering his own life and posing a danger to maritime traffic using the approaches to Scalloway Harbour.

Procurator fiscal Duncan MacKenzie said that Riise, who worked on a salmon farm and skippered the 38ft work boat, had been drinking heavily the previous evening, from tea-time until the early hours of the morning, before going to work at Blackness Pier at 6.30am on 12th October.

Some time after 7am the boat was “steaming on its own” going out into open water with no auto-pilot and Riise unaware of what was going on. Eventually the boat ran aground at Trondra with the engine running and the propeller forcing it onto rocks.

The incident was seen by two people who thought the skipper had gone overboard and told the coastguard. The two people headed out in their own vessel to assist and found Riise pacing in the wheelhouse. They took him to the shore where they were met by the coastguard. Police arrested Riise shortly afterwards.

Defence solicitor Neil McRobert said Riise had been in the industry long enough to realise the seriousness of the incident.

Riise had offered his resignation to his employer, which had been immediately accepted. He had “lost everything” as he had not worked since. Mr McRobert asked for Riise to be allowed his liberty, because although he had two drink-driving offences, the last had been in 2002 and Riise had not offended since then.

Sheriff Graeme Napier said a message had to be sent to people in charge of vessels that drinking and vessels do not mix. He said Riise could have collided with anyone and said it was a “major issue” and he should be under “no illusions about how seriously I take this”.

The sheriff said he had previously sent the master of a vessel, albeit a larger one, to prison for a similar offence.

However, taking into account Riise’s circumstances he placed him on probation for 12 months and ordered him to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work. Riise will also be tagged and placed on a curfew for six months, the first three months of which will prevent him going out any night and thereafter just at weekends.

Riise pleaded not guilty to two further charges of assaulting a police officer and failing to provide a specimen of breath, both on 12th October, and these pleas were accepted.

Theft charges Three women have been charged with twice breaking into the Mossbank Shop and stealing goods and money and once attempting to gain entry.

Two of the women appeared at Lerwick Sheriff Court on Wednesday – Laura Nelson, 22, and Rachael Holmes, 28, both of the same address in Burgadale, Brae. They pleaded not guilty.

The third woman, Sandra Grant, 28, of Ockragarth, Brae, failed to appear and a warrant was issued for her arrest.

The women are charged with breaking into the shop on 16th March and stealing 75 packets of cigarettes, four bottles of spirits, food and £650 cash.

They are also charged with breaking in again on 5th April and stealing 147 packs of cigarettes, 32 packs of rolling tobacco, lighters and cigarette papers, four bottles of spirits, one bottle of wine, cleaning agents, toiletries, food, electricity meter tokens worth £750 and £190 cash.

They are further charged with attempting to remove a wire grille from the external door and a wooden panel that would have afforded access to the shop on 11th May. In addition Nelson is charged with breach of the peace on 11th May.

The women will go to an intermediate diet on 29th July and to trial on 22nd August.


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