• Wed. May 22nd, 2024

‘Captain’ to appeal £13k fine imposed for ignoring council planners


Sep 14, 2022

The ‘somewhat eccentric captain’ of vessel ‘Boaty McFloaty’, prosecuted for ignoring warnings to demolish an ‘illegal’ riverside shed, will seek to convince a court that he should not have been fined £13k.

Simon Courtney-Worthy, 62, was given the huge fine by a district judge sitting at Oxford Magistrates’ Court in July after he pleaded guilty to breaching planning enforcement notices.

On Wednesday, Oxford Crown Court heard that Courtney-Worthy now hoped to appeal both his convictions and his sentence.

Judge Michael Gledhill KC, who noted that it was not surprising the applicant was known as ‘Captain’ as his address was given as ‘Boaty McFloaty’, said the law prevented the defendant from appealing his convictions to the crown court – as he had pleaded guilty. If he wished to challenge the convictions, he would need to get the case re-opened at the magistrates’ court.

However, his appeal against sentence was fixed for October 7 at the St Aldates courthouse.

In July, Courtney-Worthy admitted two charges of failing to comply with enforcement notes issued in January 2019. Those notices required him to stop mooring a boat on land by the banks of the River Thames near Long Wittenham, remove a shed and timber decking from the field, and re-seed the grass.

The council said the shed and decking had been put up in breach of planning regulations and had ‘caused harm to a conservation area’.

Courtney-Worthy claimed that he had only ‘done good work to the site’, regularly clearing the land and a local weir, it was reported.

Cllr Anne-Marie Simpson, South Oxfordshire District Council’s cabinet member for planning, said in August: “We try to work positively and constructively with anyone responsible for a breach but this case shows that we are also not afraid to take to court those who are unwilling to work with us.”

Oxford Mail:

On Wednesday, prosecutor Rowan Clapp told the crown court: “The defendant pleaded guilty to both of the offences before the court on the same occasion. Indeed, we will say he received credit for that guilty plea.

“It is therefore surprising the defendant now seeks to appeal against his convictions.”

Judge Gledhill interrupted: “He can’t, basically.” The court heard that the Magistrates Court Act prevented him from appealing a guilty plea from the lower court to the crown court. He would instead have to convince another magistrates’ bench or district judge that his guilty plea had been ‘equivocal’.

Courtney-Worthy, who was described as a ‘somewhat eccentric captain’ on Wednesday, did not attend the crown court hearing. His case was adjourned for the appeal against sentence on October 7.

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This story was written by Tom Seaward. He joined the team in 2021 as Oxfordshire's court and crime reporter.

To get in touch with him email: Tom.Seaward@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter: @t_seaward