Ship's captain had been drinking, court told




The captain of a ship which collided with a passenger ferry causing thousands of pounds worth of damage had drunk up to seven bottles of beer, a court in the North heard today.

Miroslaw Pozniak (aged 55) admitted crashing his cargo boat while three times over the alcohol limit but said it was because of news of his wife's ill health, his defence barrister at Downpatrick Crown Court said.

He could face up to two years in prison.

Married father-of-two Pozniak was at the helm on March 7 when he crashed into a ferry with 100 passengers and crew on board in Belfast Lough after ignoring warnings from coastguards. He had no look out, despite the darkness.

Defence barrister Sean Doran said: "There is simply no way back from this.

"His career at sea is finished."

The court heard that the Maritime and Coastal Agency had brought its own charges against the Polish man.

They included failing to keep a proper look out, failing to navigate, causing serious damage to his own ship the Union Moon as well as another vessel, the Stena Feronia.

He pleaded guilty to those charges, but he denied he failed to follow the safety rules of his former employers, along with proper watch-keeping arrangements.

The latter two charges will remain on the books and will not be proceeded with.

Mr Doran said the captain had been drinking six or seven bottles of beer in his cabin and that this was most uncharacteristic of him.

This followed a "difficult" conversation with his wife in Poland when he learned that her previous pattern of improvement had changed.

Judge David Smyth QC will pass sentence this afternoon.


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