Drunken sailor borrows boss's boat

GARY Wayne Sands was found drunk and disoriented aboard his employer’s ship as it drifted across the Hervey Bay Marina, a court has heard.

Sands, 31, appeared in the Hervey Bay Magistrates Court yesterday, where he was convicted of unlawfully interfering with a ship and having an alcohol concentration while in charge of a vessel.

The incident occurred in the early hours of August 5.

Sands was found when police boarded the 60-foot trawler, Annihilator, that belonged to his employer, the court was told.

The officers said he appeared “intoxicated and disorientated” and they had to handcuff him to the vessel before searching it.

He later returned a breath test reading of 0.113 and refused to be interviewed.

Robert McLachlan, operations manager at Schulz Fisheries, told the court that Sands had been employed as a deckhand with the company, which owned the trawler, for two years before the incident.

But he said Sands did not have permission to be on board the vessel that morning.

Sands pleaded not guilty to the interfering charge and chose not to give evidence.

Constable Leonie See and partner Senior Constable Matthew Thompson arrived at the marina shortly after 4am that morning.

They could see the drifting vessel with its right trawling arm extended.

In the darkness, the trawler had a number of lights on, Const. See said, so she could clearly make out a man standing inside the cabin doorway.

Snr Const. Thompson said he could see the man who, he said, made no attempts to come out of the cabin and address the shouts of police or the other fishermen.

The two officers crawled on to the vessel via the trawling arm, which had begun to scrape against the rock wall at the marina.

They found Sands on board in a “very disorientated state”.

He said police had to call in a local skipper to start the vessel and shift it back to where it was meant to be moored.

But the trawler arm was damaged and could not be lifted.

Defence lawyer Ian Pilgrim told the court Sands had no idea how the vessel came to be drifting or why the trawler arm was down.

But Magistrate Tom Killeen dismissed Sands’ explanation of events as “unbelievable”.

Sands was fined $2700 and his recreational speedboat licence disqualified for six months.

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