Rotto cruise death charges

THE charging of a Fremantle dive company and its skipper following the death of a passenger who’d fallen overboard has the industry worried.

Swan River Boat Charters was charged with liquor-related offences this week as a result of a police investigation into the death of 35-year-old mortgage broker Damien Mills in October last year.

Mr Mills fell overboard on the return leg of a Rottnest Island cruise, but no-one noticed his disappearance until the boat had docked. His body was later recovered 5.5 nautical miles off Leighton Beach.

WA charter boat association president Rick Reid told the Herald he’s hampered from commenting because of the looming court case and coroner’s report but is hoping to meet with liquor licensing to clarify implications for the industry.

The company was charged with allowing a premises to be used as a place of resort for the consumption of alcohol. The 30-year-old Hamilton Hill skipper was charged with selling alcohol.

Mr Reid says the industry has been two-stepping with regulatory authorities for 15-20 years over the issue of alcohol on charter boats, but thought it had reached detente.

After a crackdown by Racing, Gaming and Liquor a few years back, the industry had met with water police and other bureaucrats to hammer out an agreed position.

SRBC is due to appear in the Perth magistrates court next week, and if found guilty faces a fine of up to $2000.


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