ENGLAND - A ferry arsonist who risked the lives of 1,000 passengers has been jailed for 11 years. Boden Hughes, 27, caused £800,000 of damage to the North Sea ferry after starting a blaze in his cabin while smoking cannabis.
A court heard the fire left 27 passengers and crew on the ‘King of Seaways’ needing treatment for smoke inhalation. Six people - including a pregnant woman - had to be winched from the vessel by helicopter in the pitch dark. The drama unfolded when DFDS ferry was around 30 miles out to sea, north east of Flamborough Head, near Scarborough.
There were 946 passengers and 127 crew on board when Hughes, who was smoking cannabis in a bong, threw his lighter onto a pile of clothes, igniting them. Passengers were left “scared” and children in tears during the fire on December 28th last year.
During the panic, Hughes then got involved in a fight with fellow passenger, throwing punches. The vessel, which was bound for Amsterdam, was forced to return to its departure point in North Shields, North Tyneside, cancelling the passengers’ mini-break. Hughes from Sunderland, admitted reckless arson on the basis he started the fire accidentally with a discarded lighter.
Judge James Goss QC sentenced him to nine years for arson and affray, which he admitted, plus two years for his involvement in a copper cable theft conspiracy from network rail, which he also pleaded guilty to. The judge said the last example of fire on board a similar vessel resulted in the death of 159 people who perished on the Scandinavia Star in 1990. The judge agreed with the prosecution description of Hughes’ “spectacular recklessness” while using a naked flame to try and smoke cannabis. The judge said: “The consequences could have been disastrous.
“Panic was caused, passengers were injured by reason of smoke inhalation and £800,000 loss caused to the ferry operator. Fires on a ship are even more serious than those on land. The escape routes are limited, the stability of the vessel can be effected by use of water to extinguish the flames.
“This is an offence of the highest culpability.”
The Mirror/September 19, 2014
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