Leah Fineran | July 1st, 2010 | GOLD COAST NEWS
A BOAT driver whose girlfriend fell overboard and was hacked to death by a propeller on the Gold Coast has been fined $2000 after being found guilty of unsafe operation of a ship but not guilty of causing her death.
Russell Dudley Smith, 58, hung his head as the Southport District Court jury returned their verdict after just two hours of deliberation.
During the six day trial the jury was told Ms Crellin died on December 14, 2006 after falling from the back of Mr Smith’s boat during a Christmas party cruise in the Coomera River.
The jury determined this morning that Smith should have warned and supervised his passengers of the dangers of standing on the duckboard while the boat was in motion.
However they also decided he could not have foreseen that her fall would lead to her being swept under the boat and into the propellers, fatally wounding her.
Judge Clive Wall QC said he was minded to give a wholly-suspended jail sentence but his hands were effectively tied by precedent.
Under the Transport Operations (Marine Safety) Act the maximum penalty for unsafe operation of a ship is 12 months in jail or a $5000 fine.