The jury in the trial of yachting boss Douglas Innes have found him not guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence.
Douglas Innes, 43, of Southampton, Hampshire, briefly closed his eyes and mouthed the words “thank you” as the jury, sitting at Winchester Crown Court, announced the not guilty verdicts.
The jury had been deliberating at the retrial for 23 hours and 25 minutes.
The yacht lost its keel as the crew were returning the 40ft yacht from Antigua to the UK in May 2014 when it got into trouble 1,000 miles from the United States.
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Lost at sea were all four crew members – skipper Andrew Bridge, 22, from Farnham in Surrey; James Male, 22, from Southampton; Steve Warren, 52, and Paul Goslin, 56, both from Somerset.
Honourable Mr Justice Teare heard how the US Coastguard was criticised for calling off its search after two days but after protests from family and friends and intervention by the British government, the search was re-started and the boat found but without any sign of the four men.
Innes, and his company Stormforce Coaching Limited, is to be sentenced on May 11 after being convicted at the first trial of failing to operate the yacht in a safe manner contrary to section 100 Merchant Shipping Act.
Innes said no fault with the keel or hull had been found and the yacht was scrubbed thoroughly prior to the its final journey.
No problems with the keel or hull were spotted and he had not been informed by the yacht’s owners of damage caused during two groundings on two occasions, he added.