Fisherman stabbed fellow crew member in drunken argument

Court latest
Court latest

A fisherman was stabbed by a fellow crew member during a drunken argument on a scallop trawler in Scarborough, a court heard

Oliver Napier Humphrey, 29, was slashed twice in the leg with what is believed to be a three-inch gutting knife brandished by sailor Henry William Hadden.

Strapping six-footer Mr Humphrey ended up lying in a pool of blood shouting: “Jesus, I’ve been stabbed.”

As blood gushed from his leg wounds, crew members on the Scottish vessel Geertruida, which was moored in Scarborough, rushed to his aid and called police, York Crown Court heard.

Prosecutor Giles Grant said an ambulance rushed Mr Humphrey to hospital to have his wounds stitched.

Hadden, of Woodend Road, Aberdeen, was arrested but the diminutive trawlerman, who stands at just 5ft 2ins, claimed he had acted in self-defence after Mr Humphrey punched him three times to the head as he was getting into his bunk.

Hadden was charged with unlawful wounding but denied the allegation. He appeared for the start of a three-day trial on Tuesday.

Barrister Mr Grant claimed Hadden had used “excessive force” even if he was acting in self-defence.

He said the six mariners moored at Scarborough Harbour on June 10 last year after a three-week journey from eastern Scotland which had been blighted by heated arguments and a poisonous atmosphere among the crewmen, particularly between new recruits Hadden and Mr Humphrey.

After docking in Scarborough, the six trawlermen went for a drink in town where they each knocked back at least seven or eight pints. Most of the crewmen arrived back at the boat at about 1.30am, by which time Hadden was in his bunk.

He leapt out of his bed to confront Mr Humphrey who was being “loud and argumentative” with another crew member in the galley.

“The defendant and the victim were shouting and swearing at each other,” added Mr Grant. “He (Hadden) was holding a gutting knife behind Oliver Humphrey’s back.”

Skipper George Findlay came rushing out of his cabin and told Hadden to put the knife away, but the warring rivals continued to bawl each other out.

Hadden and Mr Humphrey went back to their four-bunk cabin but “what happens next in that room is unclear”, added Mr Grant.

“The other members of the crew hear violence, but what is clear is that Oliver Humphrey was stabbed twice to his left leg by the defendant, who had a bloodied lip and cut to his hand.”

Hadden claimed Mr Humphrey had punched him repeatedly in the cabin doorway, causing him to become “dizzy and incoherent”.

Mr Humphrey said violence erupted after he accused Hadden of “not pulling his weight on deck”.

He said Hadden came into the galley brandishing the blade and “foaming at the mouth” in front of shocked crewmen.

“We didn’t know who was going to get it,” added Mr Humphrey. “I said I was going to leave the boat and he said, ‘I’m going to throw your bags over the side, burn your clothes or your bags’.

Hadden’s barrister David Ward claimed father-of-one Mr Humphrey had been aggressive and argumentative towards other crew members during the voyage.

Mr Humphrey denied this and said claims by Hadden that he had followed him into his cabin and assaulted him were “lies”.

Jason Thorton, the boat’s second-in-command, said: “I just got the impression that these two just didn’t like each other.”

The trial continues.