cheated death when his
luxury yacht exploded in
flames in Southampton
Water 15 minutes into its
maiden voyage has won
£300,000 in compensation.
Paul Ward, 62, and passenger John
Innes jumped into a life raft as
flames took hold of the newly bought
vessel in February 2010.
At the High Court Judge David
Mackie QC said that, save for
“attacks from submarines”, the only
likely cause of the explosion was a
serious defect in the yacht’s engine.
He ordered the dealer, Irish company
MGM Marine Ltd, to pay £291,000
to Mr Ward, plus interest, and up to
£154,000 to cover his legal costs.
Mr Ward, of Lane End Drive,
Woking, argued that the company
had breached the Sale of Goods Act
1979 by supplying a boat which was
not fit for use.
He told the London court that he purchased
the Meridian 341 in 2009 at
Southampton International Boat
Show and it was only 15 minutes into
his first venture out into open water
that the problems began.
Mr Ward, who is managing director
of a coach company based in Sussex,
heard an unusual noise and saw
strange blue smoke coming from the
boat near Calshot Spit.
Flames could be seen coming out of
an empty locker, the cockpit exploded
into flames and both men suffered
burns to their bodies and clothes as
they escaped.
The 36ft yacht then sank.
In his High Court claim Mr Ward’s
barrister, John Passmore, argued
that three companies, all trading as
MGM Boats, should be held liable.
Judge Mackie said the defendants
had left it to Mr Ward to prove his
case that the boat exploded and sank
because of a pre-existing defect.
Suggestions had been made in
cross-examination that the men may
have been smoking on the yacht, but
although both accepted they enjoyed
a cigarette, they denied it.
Giving judgment, Judge Mackie
said: “There is absolutely no evidence
this fire occurred otherwise
than as a result of defects with the
engine or the boat. Subject to speculating
on attacks from submarines or
something, there is no available other
explanation and, therefore, I have
no difficulty in concluding that the
claimant’s submissions are right.”
Mr Ward had lodged his claim with
his partner, Dawn Roads, against two
companies called MGM Marine Ltd,
one based in Ireland, the other in
Northern Ireland, and a third called
Dun Laoghaire Yacht Services Ltd.