Kayaker run over by model powerboat in Torbay
A RECKLESS skipper was so engrossed in a model powerboat race that he ploughed his boat into a kayaker, a court has heard.
Helmsman Anthony McCarthy, 31, of Sea View Terrace, Thurlestone, did not see kayaker Nigel Hatton during a 30mph speed time trial of a 15cc 5ft model powerboat race across the Bay.
The red kayak was sliced in two by the support boat's propeller and the victim is still undergoing treatment for extensive leg injuries a year after the incident.
McCarthy was fined a total of £2,275 after pleading guilty to navigation without due care and attention at Torquay Magistrates' Court.
He had initially pleaded not guilty but changed his plea days before the trial date.
The court was told that McCarthy was at the helm of Smuggler, a RHIB that was being used by the racing team including the remote control operator, that was accompanying the model boat on its journey across Tor Bay.
It was part of a race organised by the Offshore Model Powerboat Racing Association on September 19 last year.
Prosecutor Nigel Wraith told the court: "It is apparent that McCarthy attention was diverted and he was distracted by the model power boat and he was not keeping a proper lookout."
The court was told the kayaker had been out for a paddle and had spotted in the distance a boat and what he believed to be a jet ski some time earlier. But he continued because they were not on a collision course. He later became aware of something approaching him from behind.
Mr Wraith said: "He looked up and saw the Smuggler bearing down upon him. He could not see any people on board and it follows that if he could not see them then they could not see him.
"He raised his right hand and shouted but had no response above the noise of the engine. He knew the RHIB was going to hit him and he took evasive action by capsizing himself and he tried to free his legs from the cockpit.
"Under the water, there was a bang and he knew his kayak had been hit and that his legs had been hit as well."
Mr Hatton underwent days of hospital treatment, including surgery at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in London.
The treatment is ongoing and a separate compensation claim is being pursued through the civil courts.
In mitigation, Michael Hayman said his client was of previous good character and accepted negligence, although visibility was not ideal.
He questioned why the race had not been publicly advertised.
He said: "This is a significant accident and we are not in any way avoiding responsibility, simply that the details of the race was not known to other people who could have stayed clear of the course."
Mr McCarthy was ordered to pay a fine of £260, £15 victim surcharge and £2,000 in court costs.