Boat skipper spared jail to save livelihoods of his fishing crew

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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.

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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.”

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