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Vessel that killed Frandie Martin Jr had right of way, court hears

The building that houses the High Court in Road Town.

The defence for Andrew Morell has argued that the vessel he was operating, the Blue Bayou, had the right of way at the time of the fatal boating accident that led to the death of Frandie Martin Jr on October 16, 2021.

The defence presented this argument on Friday, July 5, in the High Court during the trial of Morell, who is charged with manslaughter and causing injury to a person.

The lead investigating officer in the case, Acting Chief Inspector D’Urville Carty, was called to testify on Friday. He stated that as part of the investigation, the police took the Blue Bayou for a ‘trial run’ after the accident and discovered that the vessel had a blind spot, which gave him an idea as to what caused the accident.

However, during cross-examination by the defence, Inspector Carty was questioned about a fundamental rule in international maritime law, which states that when two power-driven vessels are crossing paths, the vessel that has the other on its starboard (right) side must give way. This means that the vessel on the port (left) side must yield and allow the vessel on the starboard side to continue on its course.

Officer Carty confirmed this to be true when questioned in court.

The court was told that at the time of the fatal crash, the Blue Bayou was on the starboard side when it collided with the other vessel, Yeya. The designated captain of the Blue Bayou, Graham Stanton, along with his wife and children, were also aboard.

They were heading west in waters outside of Prospect Reef, Tortola when the captain reportedly gave the wheel to Morell as he needed to use the bathroom.

Sometime later, the Blue Bayou collided with Yeya, and three persons on board the Yeya sustained severe injuries. Martin Jr, a resident of Fat Hogs Bay, subsequently died from his injuries. The captain of Yeya was identified as Ray Brewley.

Captain Stanton of the Blue Bayou is facing one charge of failing to render assistance following a collision. He was scheduled to appear before the Magistrate’s Court on July 4.

During the trial, the prosecution brought in witnesses from Virgin Islands Search and Rescue (VISAR) who testified about their search for Yeya after the crash. Other officers involved in the investigation also testified.

The trial continues after initially beginning on July 3.

Sandip Patel, KC, appointed to the Legal Services panel for the Government of the British Virgin Islands, represents the prosecution, while Morell is represented by Charles Bott, KC, of Martin Kenney and Company.

The presiding judge for this case is Justice Stanley John.


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