Boat skipper spared jail to save livelihoods of his fishing crew

Michael Stimson
Southampton Crown Court in London Road

A FISHERMAN who breached a suspended sentence order was spared jail to protect the livelihoods of two men he works with.


Michael Stimson (36) of Ladycross Road, Hythe, had been ordered to complete 150 hours of unpaid community work for a previous offence, but he failed to show up to one of his sessions in June, Southampton Crown Court heard.

Judge Gary Burrell QC was set to activate the 12-month prison term he was also subject to for that same offence, but relented after being told Stimson had been appointed skipper of a fishing trawler and had two people depending on him to make a living.

Prosecutor Emily Lanham explained the defendant had so far completed 35 hours and 35 minutes of the order.

Defending, Graham Gilbert said his client – who admitted the breach – was trying to turn his life around and would earn £200 a week in his new role based on a boat in Portsmouth.

The court heard that one of the two men who worked for him was a young father, and that both would lose their jobs if he was sent to prison.

After mulling over the sentence, Judge Burrell told Stimson: “Why would it be unjust to implement a jail sentence? Answer: It wouldn’t.

“That was my initial view, that you should go to prison and start the suspended sentence you breached; but your work has made all the difference.”

Fining Michael Stimson £150, Judge Burrell added: “I really do not feel there’s much point in fining people who are doing their best to make a living, but the only options open to me are a fine, unpaid work or prison.

“More unpaid work is unrealistic given your job, and prison, probably given your job, would be unjust. I’m pushed into having to fine you.”