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Pilot who drove ferry into dock suspended from duties

Serenity ferry (Photograph supplied)

A man who drove a public ferry into a floating dock while impaired has been suspended pending an investigation, the Ministry of Transport announced.

A transport ministry spokesman confirmed that Ascot Lightbourne, 60, had been “relieved of his duties” and that an internal investigation was under way.

Lightbourne, from St George’s, pleaded guilty in Magistrates’ Court on Monday to piloting the ferry Serenity while impaired, as well as two counts of assault on police officers.

Crown Prosecutor Karen King-Deane said he could face a maximum penalty of $1,000 and a year behind bars, but added that a suspended licence, which is mandatory for drink driving offences, was not included for impaired boating.

The ministry spokesman confirmed that these conditions were outlined in the Marine Board Act 1962 as the maximum sentence for first-time offenders.

The Act lists a $4,000 fine and two years imprisonment as the maximum penalties for subsequent offences.

The House of Assembly last month backed tougher impaired boating laws last month, which included an alcohol limit of 50 micrograms of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood for the skippers of vessels operated for “hire or reward”.

But it was said in court that these laws had not yet gone into effect.

The ministry spokesman could not confirm when the legislation would be enacted.

The bill, which was tabled in mid-December, did not include a suspension of boating licences for those convicted of impaired boating offences.

Serenity, piloted by Lightbourne, collided with the Hamilton ferry terminal around 1.26pm last Thursday while crew members were on board.

A crew member took command of the ferry, which was headed to Dockyard, and Lightbourne was escorted back to the overnight dock in Hamilton where he admitted he had been drinking.

Police were called and attempted to arrest Lightbourne but he pushed and kick at police in the process.

Officers called for assistance and Lightbourne was eventually subdued.

Senior magistrate Juan Wolffe called his inability to suspend its licence “abject madness” and a “gross leniency”.

He adjourned the case until February 15 for sentencing and ordered Lightbourne to undergo a social inquiry report and a drug assessment.

Mr Wolffe added: “I wouldn’t say it’s likely, but I’m certainly thinking about whether or not a term of imprisonment would be appropriate in these circumstances, given the seriousness of the offence.”

• It is The Royal Gazette’s policy not to allow comments on stories regarding criminal court cases. This is to prevent any statements being published that may jeopardise the outcome of that case.