Royal Gibraltar Police call on Solis Marine’s Captain Richard Meikle to investigate fatal accident at sea

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Royal Gibraltar Police call on Solis Marine’s Captain Richard Meikle to investigate fatal accident at sea

Solis Marine partner and independent accident investigator Captain Richard Meikle has given expert evidence during an inquest into the death of a Spanish national in a collision at sea with a Customs vessel in Gibraltar.

Captain Meikle was appointed by the Royal Gibraltar Police to investigate the incident which occurred in 2019.

On the second day of the inquest he told the Coroner’s court that he believed the Customs boat had gone against the rules of engagement, increasing the likelihood of a collision.

Captain Meikle said it was not possible to know for certain what had occurred in the 2019 death of Alfredo Morodo Gutierrez, but presented his conclusions based on forensic evidence.

On the night of Mr Morodos’ death, Customs vessel ‘HMC SEARCHER’ disrupted a suspected smuggling operation involving several boats at Eastern Beach, escorting two RHIBs to the edge of British Gibraltar territorial waters. However, one boat remained with Mr Morodo onboard.

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According to Captain Meikle, and as tracked on its GPS, ‘HMC SEARCHER’ performed a fast, 270° turn. All four officers onboard the Customs vessel claim they came to a stop after this; but other witnesses claim Searcher was moving at speed at the time of its collision with Mr Morodo’s vessel.

Captain Meikle used Solis Marine’s 3D modelling, taking into account the damage suffered by each vessel, to conclude that it was unlikely that ‘HMC SEARCHER’ had been stopped in the water.

He said the Customs vessel’s manoeuvres put them at high risk of collision during the operation, that it did not keep a safe distance from other vessels, and that it had directly contravened the guidance outlined in the Customs rules of engagement.

According to lawyers for Customs, during examination Captain Meikle said the RHIB involved in the accident could also be deemed to have not kept a safe distance, in which case – they argued – there would be no breach by Customs of its rules.

When asked whether he believed it had been a deliberate attack by SEARCHER, Solis Marine Consultant’s Captain Meikle replied that there was no evidence of this. The inquest is expected to conclude next week.

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