Mother of fisherman still wants answers four years after fatal capsizing in Sussex

  • ITV News Meridian's Malcolm Shaw has been speaking to Robert Morley's family.

The mother of a fisherman, who died alongside his crewmate, says she still has unanswered questions, four years after his death.

Robert Morley and Adam Harper were working on the fishing boat the Joanna C when it sank five miles off the Sussex coast.

Robert who was ship's mate and Adam who was the deckhand drowned when their boat capsized in Newhaven in November 2020 - the captain survived.

The company that owns the boat, Laura D Fishing, has been ordered to pay more than £100,000 in fines and costs following an investigation into the incident.

However, Jackie Woodford, Robert's mother, says she does not believe the boat's owner is solely accountable and still feels many questions remain about the sinking.

  • Jackie Woodford, Robert Morley's mother, spoke to ITV News Meridian

Ms Woodford said: "Robert was happy-go-lucky, not a care in the world. I always called him my Peter Pan, the boy who wouldn't grow up, and he won't now.

"We haven't had answers, not the answers that we wanted - the 'how?', the 'why?' and the 'what?'

"As far as [the investigation] was concerned, the 'how?' was and the 'why?' was because of the stability of the boat.

"But we have no answers as to how that boat got into that position."

Katie Barrett, Robert's sister said: "We've had to kind of create our own closure because the closure we were hoping for we're never going to get.

"So what we have to do at this stage is find a way to deal with that within our family and then move forward, because also Robert wouldn't want us stuck in the past."

Robert's name is on a memorial on West Beach at Newhaven, dedicated those who lost their lives at sea. Credit: ITV News Meridian

Adam Harper was trapped inside the boat as it sank. The body of Robert Morley was found washed up near Bexhill three weeks later.

An investigation into the tragedy found that the scallop dredger capsized after its gear became snagged on the seabed.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said: "Joanna C, owned by Laura D Fishing, had undergone a major refit in 2019. These modifications, affected the stability of the vessel.

"Extensive changes made to Joanna C, were not approved by the MCA, and made it significantly non-compliant with the minimum standards of stability."

The company, Laura D Fishing, pleaded guilty to failing to take all reasonable steps to ensure that the vessel was operated in a safe manner.

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