UPDATED: Richard Pease, a hovercraft pilot charged with piloting one of Hovertravel’s commercial craft whilst over the alcohol limit, has pleaded guilty to the offence at the Isle of Wight Crown Court this morning (Tuesday).
Pease, 50 from Northwood near Cowes, appeared in front of the Isle of Wight Crown Court in Newport earlier this morning following an incident back in June in which Hovertravel staff had to step in to guide ‘Freedom 90’ into Ryde after Pease failed multiple times to bring the craft, with 36 people on board, to a safe landing.
The pilot of 20 years was charged with driving a motor vehicle whilst above the legal alcohol limit, namely 96 microgrammes in 100 milliliters of breath – nearly three times the drink-drive limit. He is also charged with being responsible for conduct of a vessel that contravenes Merchant Shipping regulations.
The case has been adjourned until 10th October when sentencing will take place. Unconditional bail has been granted for Pease.
UPDATE @ 12:55 – A spokesperson for Hovertravel Ltd has this afternoon told Island Echo:
“Hovertravel appreciates the serious nature of this matter and has been fully co-operating with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency’s investigation since the incident.
“Following this, Hovertravel has reviewed their robust procedures and concluded they were implemented successfully on the day which ensured that any risk to health and safety was mitigated. Regular training and a clear understanding of our safety procedures gave our crew the confidence to react appropriately to the situation.
“As the court proceedings are still ongoing, we can not comment on the specifics of the incident and we continue to provide all and any assistance required to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency”.