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Skipper fined £20,000 after engineer dies aboard fishing vessel

James Thores pleaded guilty to the charge following the death of ship’s engineer Artis Sterkis near Peterhead.

Starlight Rays: Fishing boat where Artis Sterkis, 37, died in August 2011
Davie Tait

A skipper has been fined £20,000 after one of his crew inhaled dangerous fumes and died.

James Thores pleaded guilty to the charge following the death of ship’s engineer Artis Sterkis near Peterhead in August 2011.

Mr Sterkis was pumping water out of the bow of the the Starlight Rays using a petrol-driven pump when a crewman assisting him became unwell and left the hold.

When he returned, the crewman found Mr Sterkis unconscious. He went to raise the alarm and returned to the hold before also collapsing unconscious.

A rescue helicopter airlifted the crewmen to hospital, but Mr Sterkis could not be saved.

Thores pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety regulations at a hearing on October 12 and was sentenced at Elgin Sheriff Court on Thursday.

Judge sheriff Olga Pasportnikov said that if Mr Thores had followed previous recommendations from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, then this accident would not have occurred.

Captain Bill Bennett of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency added: “The dangers of using of a petrol engine in a confined space are well known. The vessel was provided with two primary pumping systems either of which could have and should have been operational.

“There should have been no reason to use the petrol pump which was on board as an emergency fire pump, not as a salvage pump.”

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