Scottish skipper fined for being under the influence

A North-east skipper who sailed while over twice the legal limit for alcohol was fined £1,400 at Lerwick Sheriff Court today.

Steven Hay, 53, of Gilmour Crescent, Lossiemouth, left with his boat at around 11.30pm from Lerwick Harbour on Saturday night with 88 microgrammes of drink in his system – the legal limit is 35 microgrammes.

He had been berthed at Lerwick and enjoyed some of the festivities laid on during the Tall Ships event in the town. His trawler, the Fraserburgh-registered Falcon, was going to the aid of a sister vessel which had partially grounded in a shallow area of the harbour. Hay got a tow on the vessel, but the rescue was taken over by the port’s pilot boat.

During the incident staff at the port authority formed the impression Hay was under the influence and contacted the police. He was arrested and kept in custody until today’s appearance.

Procurator fiscal Duncan MacKenzie said: “It’s stating the obvious to say the harbour was particularly busy this weekend past.”

Defence agent Chris Dowle said Hay had been fishing since 1984 and had never been in court before.

Questioned by sheriff Graeme Napier he admitted he was going to head for fishing miles about 100 miles off-shore.

The court heard Hay’s vessel had been tied up with gearbox problems which had held back his fishing this year. He expects his work to be further curtailed in September under a new quota regime.

Fining him, sheriff Napier said Hay had been a danger to himself and his crew. He warned the maximum penalty available to him was a 12-month prison sentence or a £10,000 fine.

However, the sheriff reduced the financial penalty given Hay’s previous clean record and his early plea of guilty.


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