Sailor warned he may face jail

The master of a vessel who breached safety regulations has been remanded in custody until next week.

James Graham Paul Stronge, whose has an address in Killyleagh, Downpatrick, pleaded guilty to four maritime offences committed between August 2011 and February 2012.

They include going on a voyage without a survey or passenger certificate and breaching shipping regulations.

Derry Crown Court heard the vessel, the Sarah May III, was licenced to carry 12 passengers and three crew.

Stronge had been served with a notice by Maritime Coastguard Agency on February 8 not to use the vessel because of safety issues.

However, on February 17 he took the vessel out from the city’s port to Culmore Point. There were 23 passengers on board and two crew, in breach of the licence. It was further alleged there were breaches of regulations on the vessel in relation to life jackets, life rafts and life raft safety units.

A defence barrister told the court the defects on the boat have since been rectified and all the safety equipment has been fully serviced.

He added there was “nothing malicious” in the 64-year-old’s actions “just carelessness”.

The court heard that Stronge bought the boat in 2000 to support him into retirement, after an electrical shop he owned - which had be burgled 90 times and bombed several times - was liquidated.

The defence counsel told the court the vessel is estimated to be worth between £20,000 and £40,000.

Judge Piers Grant adjourned sentencing until next week and remanded Stronge in custody.

He warned the 64-year-old and a “custodial sentence is likely”.