Recommended NZ | Guide to Money | Gimme: Competitions - Giveaways

Community Service For Man Whose Children Drowned When Boat Sank

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Auckland, Nov 24 NZPA - An Auckland man whose two children drowned when his boat sank in the Hauraki Gulf declined to comment as he left court today, sentenced to 250 hours' community service.

Lindsay Rowles, 54, pleaded guilty in North Shore District Court to operating a vessel causing unnecessary danger or risk, under the Maritime Transport Act.

Last year his children, Erina, eight, and Travis, five, drowned when they were trapped below as the boat sank near Shag Island in the Hauraki Gulf on Anzac Day.

Crown prosecutor Mark Davies told the court that Rowles bought the 6.7m vessel on April 24, one day before the sinking, last year.

He had not carried out a pre-launch safety check before setting out.

He also failed to ask the vendor about the workings of the vessel, including operation of the bilge pump, which removes excess water from the deck areas.

The vessel set off from Torpedo Bay about 11am that day, and headed to Palm Beach, Waiheke Island, where it docked for several hours. Alcohol and cannabis were consumed on board.

The boat later moved to Onetangi about 4pm, where it was beached and the group went to the RSA for a meal. At around 7pm, more alcohol was bought and the group returned to Onetangi.

Mr Davies told the court the vessel was then taken out to the Needles and then to Tarahiki Island to fish.

The children went to sleep in the cabin and took their life jackets off to use them as pillows. The group fished for a while then Mr Rowles went to bed.

He woke in the early hours of the morning and noticed his mattress was wet and there was water at the back of the vessel.

Mr Rowles then started the boat up and headed for the rocks to get to dry land. The children were still in the cabin and no attempt was made to get them up on deck.

The court heard that water started to come over the side of the vessel and it began to fill up. As it hit the rocks, more water rushed in and the boat sank within minutes.

The adults managed to climb onto the rocks, but their attempts to rescue the children failed.

Maritime New Zealand's investigation found the sinking was caused by water flowing into the under deck areas of the vessel through a hole left by a missing drainage bung.

Water had entered the vessel continually while it was anchored off Tarahiki Island between 9pm on April 24, 2007, and 3am on April 25.

The court heard the bilge pump was not turned on at any stage during that time, so the excess water had no way of being removed.

Geoffrey Anderson, defending, said the incident had caused Mr Rowles deep distress.

"This is the ultimate horror for a parent to cause the death of their own child, and one can only imagine the sheer agony of the situation ," Mr Anderson said.

The maximum penalty for this charge is 12 months in prison or a $10,000 fine.

But Judge Barbara Morris told Rowles that in passing sentence she took into account the "overwhelming remorse and regret you have shown".

Following the hearing today, Maritime New Zealand (MNZ) said the case highlighted the need for all skippers to conduct pre-launch safety checks.

NZPA AKL rp mgr kn

All articles and comments on Voxy.co.nz have been submitted by our community of users. Please notify us if you believe an item on this site breaches our community guidelines.