Fishing tragedy accused cleared of manslaughter

A fisherman whose boat sank with the loss of five lives was tonight found not guilty of manslaughter.

A fisherman whose boat sank with the loss of five lives was tonight found not guilty of manslaughter.

Five passengers died when the 26-foot Pisces sank on July 28 2002 during an angling trip off Fethard-on-Sea, Co Wexford.

The jury at the trial in Wexford Circuit Court of the skipper Patrick Barden had been sent out to deliberate on a verdict.

They found him not guilty of five separate manslaughter charges relating to the four men and a boy from Co Wexford who died: James Cooney, 60, his son-in-law, Séamus Doyle, 33, and grandson Mark, 13, John Cullen, 44, and Martin Roche, 67.

Mr Barden, from Fethard-on-Sea, was also found not guilty of reckless endangerment but guilty of running an unsafe ship. He was fined €1,000.

There had been no lifejackets aboard the vessel, which sank within one minute after the water started to come in.

After the verdict, Mr Barden said in a statement that his thoughts were with the families of the passengers who died.

“I will carry the thoughts of this with me to the rest of my days,” he said.

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