A drunken man who sparked a North Sea rescue mission after taking a boat from Montrose harbour has been ordered to pay the RNLI £1,000 compensation.
Liam Balneaves had been at a family gathering when he clambered aboard the fishing boat in late July and fired it up before heading off into the darkness.
The New Zealander’s antics were spotted by the town’s harbourmaster, who alerted the local lifeboat crew and they mounted a successful rescue mission.
Balneaves, 26, of Market Street, Forfar, appeared for sentence at the town’s sheriff court after previously admitting culpably and recklessly taking the fishing boat while under the influence of alcohol, navigating it out to the North Sea without wearing adequate clothing and becoming stranded, requiring him to be rescued by lifeboat personnel, causing danger to himself and the lifeboat personnel.
A co-accused, Paul Ross, 38, of Tolmount Crescent, Montrose, earlier had a not-guilty plea accepted on the same charge but the court previously heard the men had already pledged £300 each to the RNLI to cover the cost of the rescue.
Balneaves’ solicitor, Ian Flynn said the sports outlet worker was “thoroughly ashamed of the stupid, drunken escapade”.
“He was on a family night out, had too much to drink and went to the harbour, where the boat was sitting primed and ready to go with the keys in it, and they took it,” he said.
“In the cold light of dawn he realised what could have happened to himself and others.
“He has been extremely concerned about what he could face as a result.
“He is a New Zealand native and had arrived in Scotland six weeks before this offence was committed. He has no previous convictions.”
Balneaves was given six months to pay the compensation.