21/09/2006

Ferry worker arrested over yacht deaths

A P&O ferry worker has been arrested in connection with the deaths of three sailors, whose bodies were found following the disappearance of their yacht in the English Channel.

The 61-year-old from Dover, who works on the firm's Pride of Bilbao, was arrested on Wednesday, police confirmed.

He was questioned on suspicion of causing manslaughter through gross negligence and later released on bail.

It is understood that he is not the captain of the vessel.

The yacht, Ouzo, disappeared after leaving Bembridge on the Isle of Wight on August 20.

The body of James Meaby, 36, from Tooting, was found two days later, while the bodies of Rupert Saunders, also 36 and from Tooting, and Jason Downer, 35, of Broadstairs were recovered a day later.

No distress call was received from the 27ft yacht and the only remnant discovered from it was a fender.

It was feared that the yacht may have been in collision with a larger vessel, possibly a ferry.

P&O Ferries had handed over the black box recorder from the Pride of Bilbao to investigators and the hull of the ferry was also examined.

(KMcA/EF)

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