Contrite skipper admits to scuttling

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DEC. 4 — A fishing boat skipper who admitted to having scuttled his 80-foot trawler for the insurance payout more than a decade after the boat sank —saying had found religion — was sentenced to 32 months in prison.

The 53-year-old man, from Pitcaple, Scotland, pleaded guilty to creating a fraudulent scheme to obtain an insurance payout and to giving false information to insurers, the Scotsman newspaper reports. He was sentenced in court on Thursday.

The man confessed the crime to a friend at a local church two years ago because he was overcome by guilt, another news report says. When the man turned himself in to authorities he admitted that he and two crewmembers tampered with valves on the trawler, Seaward Quest, causing it to take on water and sink off Shetland, Scotland, in 1994. He received $1.1 million from his insurance provider for the loss of the boat.

In court the man’s attorney claimed that his client was not in a clear frame of mind when he sank Seward Quest, the report says.

“I cannot say he was clinically depressed at the time but a psychologist said his mental state was compromised,” the attorney was quoted saying. “The act has been sitting on his shoulders since it was committed, and religion has been his salvation and his downfall.”

— Jason Fell