Manslaughter charges brought over Cheeki Rafiki yacht deaths


The director of the yachting management company for the Cheeki Rafiki has been charged with manslaughter after it capsized in the North Atlantic, killing its four crew members.

The 40ft yacht lost its keel more than 700 miles from Nova Scotia as the crew were returning it from Antigua to the UK in May 2014.

On board were skipper Andrew Bridge, 22, from Farnham in Surrey, as well as crew members Steve Warren, 52, and Paul Goslin, 56, both from Somerset, and James Male, 23, from Southampton.

The US Coastguard was criticised for calling off its search after two days but after protests from family and friends and an intervention by the British Government, the search was re-started and the boat found - but without any sign of the four men.

Now the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and the Crown Prosecution Service have announced that Douglas Innes, director of Stormforce Coaching Limited, has been charged with four counts of manslaughter by gross negligence.

The company has also been charged with a shipping offence.

A Coastguard spokesman said: "The Maritime and Coastguard Agency has carried out an investigation lasting more than two years into the circumstances surrounding the loss of the Cheeki Rafiki in May 2014.

"Following that extensive investigation, a decision has been made by the Crown Prosecution Service to bring charges against Douglas Innes and Stormforce Coaching Limited."

Ian Harris, from the Crown Prosecution Service Wessex, said: "We have authorised the charging of Douglas Innes with four counts of gross negligence manslaughter and Douglas Innes and Stormforce Coaching Limited with one charge contrary to Section 100 Merchant Shipping Act 1995.

"These charges relate to the deaths of Andrew Bridge, James Male, Stephen Warren and Paul Goslin in the North Atlantic in May 2014, following the loss of the keel on their yacht the Cheeki Rafiki.

"The decision to charge was taken in accordance with the Code of Crown Prosecutors."

Innes and a representative of Stormforce Coaching Limited will appear at Southampton Magistrates' Court on November 3.