Mother of teenager killed in Southampton speedboat crash, brands skipper 'cowardly and weak'

Emily's father, Simon, made a statement to the media after the sentence, supported by his wife Nicola and daughter Amy.

The mother of a 15-year-old girl who died when a speedboat crashed in Southampton Water, has branded the skipper as 'a coward and a weak man', who had shown no remorse.

Nicola Lewis made the comments in a victim impact statement shortly before Michael Lawrence, 55, received a suspended sentence for failing to maintain a proper lookout and safe speed, in the moments before his RIB hit a marker buoy in August 2020.

Emily Lewis from Park Gate, Hampshire, was on a "high thrills" ride with her parents and sister when the boat she was on, hit a buoy at nearly 43mph.

The 15-year-old suffered "unsurvivable" crash injuries while a number of other passengers were also seriously injured, the court heard.

She died in hospital later that day.

Emily Lewis, 15, died from her injuries in hospital

A jury at Winchester Crown Court had earlier found Lawrence not guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence.

Reading her victim impact statement to the court, Emily’s mother Nicola, wiping back tears, said looking at Lawrence: “Emily was a fun, quiet, caring young girl with a wicked sense of humour. We loved her so much but now our hearts are empty.

“You have taken away from us not being able to see Emily grow into the beautiful young lady, the amazing adult that she would have been. I will never forgive you for this.

Skipper Michael Lawrence, on the day he was cleared of manslaughter Credit: PA

“I go back to that day, all I can see is Emily’s blue lips and her saying to me that she cannot breathe. I was not able to hold her and comfort her because of my other injuries. It wasn’t until I was in the rescue boat that I scrambled over to where she was so that she knew that I was there with her.

“The paramedics took Emily and that is the last time I saw her until she was in a hospital bed. I remember screaming, hearing Amy scream and this is when I knew we were going to have to turn the life support machine off.

“I couldn’t help her and this haunts me daily. I cannot get the image out of my head. That is why I survive and not live because of what you did to me and my family on that day.

“It is two and a half years and you have kept us in this hell, you could have taken responsibility for what happened that day but you have chosen not to. To me, you are just a coward only thinking about yourself. You show no remorse.

“You are a weak man. I hope that your sentence gives you an opportunity to reflect on what you have done.

“You never once stepped up for anyone on the boat that day.”

The boat which later crashed, killing Emily

Emily’s father, Simon, said: “The death of my amazing, wonderful daughter Emily has truly broken me.

“There is no day, hour or minute that I do not think about her. I miss her so much that some days that pain is physical. I want and need her back in my life, yet I know that this is not possible.

“I will now always have traumatic memories of seeing Emily on that day. When I passed her to you after the accident so that you could put her on the speedboat that came to help us, I can vividly see her skin smooth and pale as alabaster and her lips already looking blue.

“I hope you remember this too. I hope that this is what you see in your mind’s eye when you wake up and before you sleep.

“On that day I also had to make the decision to turn the machines off that were keeping her alive and then to sit with her while I watched the light dim from her eyes.

“No parent should have to see this.

“I reminded her while I sat holding her hand, knowing full well that she could not hear me as she had already passed away at this point, that I would remember her as a baby holding my finger while she had her bottle.”

Emily’s sister Amy, who was 18 at the time of he accident and suffered a fractured arm, said: “The 22nd of August 2020 was the last day I saw my sister. The last day I got to hear her voice, hold her hand and see her smile.

“To describe it as the worst day of my life would be an understatement, no words can describe the deep pain and suffering of that day, it’s pain you cannot speak of, only experience, and for the last two years I have felt this very feeling every day.”

Miss Lewis described how her grief for her sister, “her forever person”, had left her struggling to find a reason to continue living and added: “The way I feel and the way I have felt for the last two-and-a-half years is a feeling I wouldn’t wish on anyone, not even you Mr Lawrence.”

Mark Ashley, defending Lawrence, of Blackfield, New Forest, said that his client’s actions were “out of character” and added: “We are dealing with a good man who has made a mistake.

“He is deeply, deeply affected by what has happened. There isn’t a day that goes by when he doesn’t wish it was he who died.”

Describing Mr Howley’s “adhoc” approach to safety measures, David Richards, prosecuting, said: “He exposed his customers to the risk of a Rib ride where the necessary safety measures hadn’t been taken.”

The court previously heard that Seadogz had received three complaints from passengers suffering back injuries in 10 years – with one person injured during a ride in 2012 receiving a £300,000 payout.

Keely Harvey, representing Howley, of Hordle, Hampshire, said that he “cared” about the safety of his passengers and added: “He is highly remorseful, he is a man who will be forever affected by this.”