What a to-do with a drunken sailor early in the morning

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P&O ferries dominate Larne Harbour. Picture – Google Maps

A DRUNKEN boatman swore like a sailor to police after his small vessel almost collided with a huge ferry in the early hours of the morning at one of Northern Ireland’s busiest ports.

William James Sittlington (36), of Coastguard Road, Larne, had been sailing at the County Antrim town’s harbour around 12.30am on May 30 this year.

A prosecutor told Thursday’s Ballymena Magistrates Court that police received a report from Coastguards that a “small vessel came close to colliding with a P&O ferry”.

Police located the defendant, who had a criminal record, standing in water mooring his craft at Ship Street beside Larne Harbour. He refused to come out of the waves and “threatened” and swore at officers.

When he was searched a small amount of cannabis was discovered.

Defence solicitor Stewart Ballentine said it was a “somewhat unusual and surreal case”.

The lawyer said Sittlington had been out with a few friends on a boat which the defendant, an engineer, had constructed himself.

“They were out for a sail,” said the solicitor and the incident with police happened as he was “coming in to berth”.

“He was in the sea mooring it at the time, there was a verbal exchange,” said Mr Ballentine.

The lawyer said his client was a member of a local boat club and was aware of safety issues at the harbour.

Mr Ballentine said there had been no collision with the ferry.

The solicitor said the defendant suffered back pain and the cannabis was for his own use.

“He sobered up the next day and apologised to police and the captain,” said Mr Ballentine.

The defendant had pleaded guilty to charges of disorderly behaviour and possession of cannabis and was given one year’s Probation.

District Judge Nigel Broderick said it was an unusual case but that police called to the scene had just been doing their job.

“There was obviously some concern. No doubt the size of your vessel and the ferry may have placed you in jeopardy of being injured had there been a collision and for whatever reason you took umbrage,” he told the defendant.

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