The trial of Matthew Eteson got underway this week, with the Bayliner 285 owner accused of manslaughter by gross negligence
A boatowner charged with manslaughter by gross negligence has arrived in court this week (October 7).
Matthew Eteson, 42, from Hale in Greater Manchester, is on trial at Preston Crown Court, where prosecutors claim he made “dangerous” modifications to his boat’s generator and exhaust system.
On April 1, 2013, Mr Eteson was staying on board his Bayliner 285 Arniston (pictured above) with his girlfriend Kelly Webster, 36, and her 10-year-old daughter Lauren Thornton.
They had visited Windermere over the Easter Bank Holiday weekend to celebrate a friend’s birthday and returned to the boat for an afternoon nap after a lunch of fish and chips.
The two women died in their sleep from carbon monoxide poisoning, but the owner awoke in time to save himself from the fumes as he was sleeping in the forecabin.
The court heard that the boat’s carbon monoxide detector had been disabled, and that the diesel-powered generator had been fitted with a silencer and used to run a 1KW fan heater.
A subsequent report from the Marine Accident Investigations Branch found that the toxic gas had permeated the bulkhead between the engine bay and the amidships cabin.
Although Mr Eteson was a qualified gas fitter, he was still questioned about the carbon monoxide sensors by Kelly’s mother Nia, before the fatal incident.
His response was that they were faulty and so they were disconnected whenever the couple were cooking to avoid a false alarm.
Gary Beetham, a fellow boater who they had been visiting, told the court that he had been on board Arniston the night before the incident and claimed that the generator “appeared to be running correctly”.
The trial continues.