Monthly Archives: December 2014

Boater jailed for 16 years over plot to smuggle tonne of cocaine into UK

A West Yorkshire man pleaded guilty to conspiring to import a class A drug at Leeds Crown Court on Friday

A West Yorkshire man who was part of a bungled plot to smuggle more than a tonne of cocaine into the UK using two boats has been jailed for 16 years.

Stephen Powell, from Guiseley, was arrested after his yacht Makayabella was intercepted around 300 miles off the south west coast of Ireland in September. 

An operation involving the National Crime Agency (NCA), French, Irish and Venezuelan authorities, the UK’s National Maritime Information Centre and the Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre (MAOC-N) in Lisbon tracked the vessel as it crossed the Atlantic from the Caribbean.

The Irish Naval Service boarded Makayabella and discovered around a tonne of cocaine on board, with a likely street value in excess of £160m. 

Three British men, including Powell’s father, were detained on the vessel and taken to the Irish mainland for questioning by An Garda Síochána.

They are now being prosecuted in Ireland.

NCA investigators identified that Powell had purchased Makayabella and another vessel, Sea Breeze, which was to be used to meet the Makaybella and collect the drugs.

However, the criminal’s plan started to go wrong when Sea Breeze, skippered by Mr Powell, ran out of fuel on the way.

It was rescued by the RNLI and towed to Rosslare in Ireland before returning to Pwllheli, north Wales, where NCA officers later found the boat moored in a marina.

Mr Powell disappeared, but after NCA officers raided his home in Guiseley, he handed himself in. 

He pleaded guilty to conspiring to import a class A drug at Leeds Crown Court on Friday 5 December and was sentenced to 16 years in prison.

NCA branch commander David Norris said: “This single seizure roughly equates to four percent of the total amount of cocaine we estimate is imported into the UK every year.

“It demonstrates the importance of working with our law enforcement partners abroad to stop illegal drugs reaching the UK.

“I have no doubt that Powell played a crucial role in this plot and would have been responsible for bringing this shipment ashore, where the cocaine would have ended up in the hands of drug dealers around the north of England.

“Our investigation into this smuggling attempt and the wider organised crime group involved continues.”

Two men and a woman, all from the West Yorkshire area, remain on bail as part of the investigation.

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Video: 161ft superyacht crushed as drawbridge closes on it

The Monday morning rush hour was disrupted in South Florida as a drawbridge slipped and fell, crushing a superyacht on its way through.

The 161ft yacht named Rockstar was stopped in its tracks by the bridge, which had broken and slipped after heavy storms. The accident took place on the Intracoastal Waterway at Broad Causeway in Bay Harbour Island on Monday 3rd December.

Bay Harbour Island’s Town Manager, Ron Wasson, who can be heard in full in the video above, said:

“In this case it looks like it was kind of a perfect storm. We had a very strong windstorm come through, not uncommon to South Florida.”

“You could see that it was pouring rain, very strong wind, and the bridge leaf just started to break, just couldn’t hold it at the top, and it came down kind of in slow motion.”

“Once we got our engineers on scene we were able to lift the leaf off the boat and get that out of the way,” he added.

Bay Harbour is now undergoing repairs to the drawbridge.

The U.S. Coast Guard have said that only half of the bridge is now able to open, and therefore movement is restricted to vessels taller than 16ft and 40ft wide.

Luckily none of the 15 people on board were hurt in the accident, however, we wouldn’t want to vouch for that radar arch.

New generation of lifeboat arrives at Hoylake RNLI

Hoylake RNLI receives state-of-the-art new lifeboat, crew are hoping for a new era of lifesaving

A new £2m lifeboat arrived in Hoylake RNLI lifeboat station on Monday morning following a five-day journey from Poole.

The brand new Shannon design is the first RNLI lifeboat model to be propelled by water jets instead of propellers, giving more efficient speed and manoeuvrability.

Operations manager at Hoylake RNLI lifeboat, John Curry said: “We are absolutely delighted to be the fourth lifeboat station in the UK and the first on the west coast, to have acquired a Shannon lifeboat.”

“The arrival of the new lifeboat will bring Hoylake into a new era of lifesaving as the response times of the station will be dramatically improved.”

The Shannon is capable of top speeds of 25knots, which is a 50 per cent increase in speed than the current lifeboat models.

Mr Curry said that while 25knots is the classified speed, under tests and on her journey over, the Edmund Hawthorn Micklewood has been performing up to 30knots.

He told YBW a typical launch at midnight with no one in the station currently takes between 20 to 24 minutes, however, with the new Shannon, launch time will be reduced to approximately 12 minutes.

Funding for the new boat has come partly from a generous legacy and in part from local fundraising.

“This has been the first time we have done the fundraising for both the boat and the boathouse all together,” added Mr Curry.

“The locals have been incredibly generous, and it’s fantastic when the general public get behind us, we couldn’t exist without them.”

Paulette Micklewood, from Oxford, bequeathed funding to the RNLI, and the lifeboat has been named after Miss Micklewood’s father, Edmund Hawthorn Micklewood.

The Edmund Hawthorn Micklewood replaces Hoylake’s Mersey class lifeboat, Lady of Hilbre, which has been operating since 1990 and has carried out 237 rescues, saving 263 people.

Crew members have already partaken of specialist training to prepare for the arrival of the lifeboat, and there will be a further week of intensive training before the Edmund Hawthorn Micklewood is launched into service on 11 December.

Mr Curry also said that any members of the public wishing to view the Edmund Hawthorn Micklewood are most welcome. The Hoylake station is open from 10am till 3pm. 

The Shannon, named the Edmund Hawthorn Micklewood, arrives today after her five-day voyage from the charity’s headquarters in Poole.

Four men rescued from boat after engine explodes

Four men were rescued by the RNLI on Sunday after their boat’s engine exploded seven miles offshore.

Eastbourne’s all-weather lifeboat responded to a mayday distress call and attended the fishing boat.

An RNLI spokesperson said: “The four fishermen were seven miles south-east of Sovereign Harbour when the engine of their boat emitted a loud bang.

“Fearful that a disaster was about to follow, the occupants put out an all stations distress alert on their VHF radio.”

Dover Coastguard and a boarder agency vessel Searcher nearby both picked up the call, with Eastbourne RNLI being asked to attend the scene.

Searcher waited near to the stricken vessel until volunteer crews arrived and was later stood down.

After climbing aboard, RNLI crewmen checked everything was secure before rigging a tow and taking the vessel back to the harbour.

Despite being a bit cold, none of the men were injured during the incident.

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