'Oblivious' skipper jailed after three men drowned

  • Video report by ITV Meridian's Malcolm Shaw

The skipper of a trawler has been jailed after he passed too close to a fishing boat and caused it to capsize, leaving three men dead.

David Marr was found guilty of not keeping a proper lookout when the James 2 sank off the coast of Sussex in August 2017.

The court heard he was distracted because he was using a laptop and mobile phone.

The judge said his deliberate acts resulted in a catastrophic loss of life, sentencing him to one year in jail.

Three men on the James 2 drowned Credit: CPS

David Marr was in charge of the fishing vessel, Vertrouwen, when it passed extremely close to the James 2.

This boat was much bigger than the smaller fishing boat, causing it to sink off the coast of Shoreham.

Only one of the four men on board survived, after being picked up from the water five hours after the boat sank. The other three men all drowned.

  • Mitch Ilie, a father-of-three who ran a bike shop in Brighton. 

  • Mitch's Brother-in-Law, Irinel Popovici, who also lived in Brighton. 

  • Traian Dumitrache, their friend from London.  

The only survivor told Lewes Crown Court that they saw the Vertrouwen coming from about a kilometre away.

  • Elvis Cojocariu, speaking in 2018

The trial heard that all four men made desperate attempts and were signalling "like mad" to alert the larger vessel to their presence, but it carried straight on.

Despite this, the Vertrouwen continued in the same direction, at the same speed and the James 2 was swamped by waves.

The Crown Prosecution Service said David Marr "had not been paying sufficient attention, if any, when he was on watch".

The Vertrouwen sunk the James 2 after is passed by too close and swamped it Credit: CPS

Evidence during the trial showed that David Marr appeared to be using the ship’s laptop computer around the time of the incident and was also sending What’s App messages to a friend.

The court was also shown that David Marr would have been able to see the lights on the James 2 for six minutes before the near miss.

The Crown Prosecution Service said: "Even after his actions caused the James 2 to sink, he continued to sail on, oblivious to the fact that three men were about to die as a result of his not keeping a proper look out."

  • Det Supt, Emma Heater, Sussex Police: