A court in Italy has heard that the lover of Costa Concordia captain Francesco Schettino was on the bridge with him when the ship ran aground off the coast of Giglio in January 2012, resulting in the deaths of 32 people

As the trial of the captain of the doomed Costa Concordia ship continues, a court in Italy has heard that his lover at the time, Domnica Cemortan, was on the bridge when the ship ran aground.

Francesco Schettino is on trial in Italy facing charges of manslaughter and abandoning ship for the incident in January 2012 in which the Costa Concordia crashed off the coast of Giglio, Italy, as it cruised too close to the island and struck rocks.

In court Ms Cemortan said she had dinner with Schettino before joining him on the bridge while he oversaw what was supposed to be a simple sail-past of the island of Giglio.

After being pressed Ms Cemortan admitted that the pair had been in a relationship. Describing how she had boarded the ship hours before the crash as a non-paying passenger she said: “When you are someone’s lover, no-one asks you for a ticket.”

There has been much speculation in local media that Schettino was distracted by her presence but this has not been proven.

The court is expected to hear from around 1000 witnesses throughout the duration of Schettino’s trial, and the captain has already tried to direct some blame towards the helmsman.

The Costa Concordia has recently been righted and plans are now underway to move the carcass of the ship next year.

THE COSTA CONCORDIA STORY IN PHOTOS.