Philip Colver cleared of manslaughter for collision in 2005 that left one man dead

A man who was found to be twice over the road alcohol limit after his cabin cruiser was involved in a fatal collision with a small dory has been cleared of manslaughter.

Philip Colver, 32, from Cornwall, was at the helm of his 6.5m motorboat Carrie Kate at 11pm on 16 July 2005 when he collided with a 4.5m dory with three people on board.

The owner of the dory, Benjamin Cochrane, was killed instantly as Carrie Kate was thought to ride up over his boat. The two others on board, Cochrane’s brother and a friend, were injured.

The judge at the Royal Courts of Justice in Truro found Colver not guilty to the charges of manslaughter and GBH, after the 32 year old had previously pleaded guilty to three charges arising from breaches of the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea.

Colver was sentenced to 150 hours of community service – 50 for each charge. The Right Honourable Mr Justice Owen said it was to Colver’s credit that he “never sought to avoid responsibility for the death”.

An investigation into the accident off St Mawes in Cornwall conducted by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch found that the helmsmen of both boats involved had been drinking and neither had switched on their navigation lights.

Mr Justice Owen said: “The tragic outcome of the collision demonstrates all too clearly the dangers of driving powerboats at speed in waters where other boats are likely to be encountered. Driving at speed and in poor visibility, a power boat may be a lethal weapon.”

Detective Inspector Simon Selley, Devon and Cornwall Constabulary said: “As in all cases that are brought before the courts involving alcohol, whether it is boats on the water, or cars on the road, there are no winners or losers. Many people can be affected by the outcome, and we would strongly encourage everyone to think first before making a decision that could affect the rest of their lives and others.”