Ferry captain jailed for fatal collision

Pasquale Miccio,48, who was in charge of the Scottish Viking ferry which hit a fishing boat off the Berwickshire coast in 2010, at the High Court, Edinburgh
Pasquale Miccio,48, who was in charge of the Scottish Viking ferry which hit a fishing boat off the Berwickshire coast in 2010, at the High Court, Edinburgh

An Italian sailor who caused the death of a teenage fisherman off the Berwickshire coast wept as a judge jailed him for eight months.

Pasquale Miccio, 48, was in charge of the Scottish Viking ferry when it collided with the prawn fishing boat Homeland off St Abbs Head on August 5, 2010.

Miccio, from Sorrento, failed to change course or heed warnings from crew members about the proximity of the vessel to his boat.

His incompetence caused Daniel McNeil, 16, of Tynemouth, Tyne and Wear, to drown. Mr McNeil’s brother, Joseph, who was skipper, was rescued. Daniel’s body was recovered three months after the accident

At the High Court Edinburgh last week, Miccio’s defence advocate Dorothy Bain QC urged judge Lord Bannatyne not to jail her client.

She told the court: “He has expressed profound and genuine remorse for what has happened.

“He is struggling to come to terms with what has happened. It is difficult to convey the level of remorse and sadness that he feels as a consequence of his actions.

“He realises that he has caused the loss of the life of a 16-year-old boy who had his entire life in front of him.”

Miccio, who was originally charged with culpable homicide, pleaded guilty to breaching the 1995 Merchant Shipping Act at the High Court in Glasgow last month.

Sentence had been adjourned to Edinburgh so the court could obtain reports about the first offender’s character.

The Scottish Viking was sailing between Rosyth and Zeebrugge in Belgium. It left the Scottish port at 4.13pm and collided with the Homeland at 6.46pm.

The court heard that at the time of the collision, Miccio was in control of the ship and visibility was described “as excellent” and the sea was calm. A member of the crew Domenico Furio warned Miccio three times about approaching fishing boats. After the final warning, Miccio changed course and told Mr Furio to go to port and then sounded the ferry’s whistle.

Two other fishing boats changed course to avoid the ferry but the Homeland maintained the same course.

Expert witnesses concluded that Miccio was at fault.

Ms Bain told the court that Miccio had been a sailor for 34 years and hadn’t ever been in trouble with the authorities but he accepted that he had caused the accident.

Ms Bain added: “Mr Miccio didn’t take sufficient and effective action to prevent the collision.

“He failed to properly identify the risk of collision between the Scottish Viking and the Homeland.

“It is almost impossible to know what he was thinking of before the collision took place. He made an extremely serious error of judgement.”