A Team GB sailor has been sentenced to three years in prison after he killed his colleague in a high-speed midnight boat crash while drunk.
Morgan Smith crashed the rigid inflatable boat he was steering into a 13ft metal buoy in May last year while travelling over three times the speed limit. The crash launched David Haw and another passenger into the water at Poole Harbour, Dorset.
Haw, a 24-year-old Bristol University economics graduate, could not be located in the darkness and his body was eventually found 12 days later.
Smith, 21, who has represented Great Britain sailing since the age of 14, had been attending a “jolly” sailing regatta prize-giving ceremony at Poole Yacht Club, with Haw and others.
After a day spent drinking pints, bottles of rosé and cocktails, Smith offered to taxi Haw and others in “unnecessary journeys”, as he tried to use his mobile phone to navigate the water at “very high speed”.
‘Not qualified or trained’
Winchester Crown Court, heard that even if Smith had stuck to the harbour’s speed limits he was “not qualified or trained” to conduct trips at night.
Smith dropped a number of people back to Poole Quay before attempting to take Haw back to Salterns Marina.
The court heard he had completed a Royal Yachting Association powerboat level two course, but would have needed 22 days of training to learn the “fundamental duties” of being a skipper at night time.
On the afternoon of Sunday 1 May, Smith was seen on CCTV drinking with Haw and others.
He had two pints of Carlsberg and two prosecco cocktails before arriving at the ceremony at 6.30pm, where they stayed until shortly after midnight.
During this time, CCTV showed Smith - a former member of the Royal Yachting Association’s Youth Squad - buying two bottles of rosé, two gin and tonics and three espresso martinis.
The court heard evidence suggesting Smith had “far in excess” of the two glasses of wine he later told police he had drunk.
Nevertheless, Smith offered to drop several people home, despite the yacht club arranging its own ‘continuous water taxi service’ and late-running minibus.
At 12.18am on May 2, the boat collided with the large, yellow, metal buoy which stood 13ft above the water and 7ft wide at its base.
‘He was our only child’
Sentencing an emotionless Smith, Mrs Justice Cockerill said the punishment for his “grave crime” had to be a prison term and warned other sailors of disregarding protocol.
She said: “This sentence must be one of immediate imprisonment. The evidence makes me sure you were affected by alcohol at the time of collision.”
In a victim personal statement, Richard and Gillian Haw, the parents of the deceased, told the court, Smith had “blatantly failed” in his duties to keep their son safe in a “totally unnecessary disaster”.
They said: “He was our only child at the very start of his adult life.
“We have been cruelly robbed of a future life with David. David lived life to the full.
“We both miss him enormously - the pain in our heart is indescribable and grows daily.”
After admitting a charge of gross negligence manslaughter, Smith was jailed for three years on Tuesday.