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Port of London Authority facing criminal charges after death of Darren Lacey from Gravesend seven years ago

By Sean McPolin

A tugboat captain and the Port of London Authority have appeared in court seven years after an engineer drowned in the Thames.

Darren Lacey, 40, from Gravesend, died when the Chiefton tug capsized and sank near Greenwich Pier in August 12, 2011, after crashing into a crane.

This week, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency has charged the authority, which manages navigation on the River Thames, with a health and safety breach, along with the owner of the tugboat, Palmers Marine Services Limited which is based in Wharf Road, Gravesend.

The Chiefton capsized near Greenwich Pier in the River Thames in August 2011. Picture: MAIB
The Chiefton capsized near Greenwich Pier in the River Thames in August 2011. Picture: MAIB

The agency has also charged Captain Roy Goatham, 63, and shipyard and construction company Ravestein VB, which is based in the Netherlands.

The company owned the 60-metre crane barge which the ship hit before sinking.

The Chiefton tug had been pulling the crane along the river before it capsized just before 11pm.

It unsuccessfully tried to avoid a buoy before colliding with a larger crane.

Chiefton before it sunk in the Thames
Chiefton before it sunk in the Thames

Mr Lacey was one of three people to fall off the boat in the incident.

However, rescuers managed to pull two other men, one of whom was Mr Goatham, from the water while Mr Lacey could not be found.

His body was found three days later in the river.

The Port of London Authority is facing a health and safety breach, while Palmers Marine Services Limited are faced with two similar offences.

Mr Goatham is accused of misconduct resulting in a breach or neglect of duty.

Ravestein BV are charged with failing to ensure a ship was operated in a safe manner.

A report from the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) in 2011 found none of the crew were wearing life jackets and if Mr Lacey had been "he may well have survived".

A hearing was held at Thames Magistrates' Court recently and the cases have been sent to Snaresbrook Crown Court to be dealt with.

The next hearing will be on Tuesday, December 11.

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