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‘Exocet missile’ jet ski rider escapes jail time
A BUSINESSMAN who crashed into a racing yacht in Studland Bay has received a community sentence.
Following his trial at Bournemouth Crown Court Michael Wills, 51, was convicted of causing criminal damage to the trimaran Lil Annie on June 6, 2010.
Jurors heard how Wills of Poppy Close, Poole, had been travelling at about 50mph on his jet ski with a 10-year-old pillion passenger before the collision.
Moments before the impact, which tore the vessel’s hull apart, the boy leapt to safety. Wills suffered serious leg injuries and needed 12 operations.
In his defence, the court heard that Wills, who has five employees, was a man of integrity with “a creditable background” who had made “a serious error of judgement”.
Judge Peter Johnson ordered him to carry out 100 hours of unpaid work and pay £2,400 prosecution costs.
He told Wills: “You engaged in 60 seconds of madness, riding this powerful jet ski with a 10-year-old boy behind as pillion passenger, towards a racing yacht.
“They thought you were trying to commit suicide. Their view was that your intention was to turn away at the last minute in order to spray the boat; perhaps as a show of bravado. You got this totally wrong, colliding with the yacht and causing a substantial amount of damage.”
Speaking after the collision Lil Annie owner Mark Hughes, who was sailing with a friend when the crash happened, told the Daily Echo: “He came at me like an Exocet missile.
“I could see his eyes. I heard the lad on the back shout ‘What are you doing?’ before he jumped off the back. If that little kiddie hadn’t jumped he could have been dead.”
PC Tristin Oliver of Dorset police marine section said: “While the majority of power boat and jet ski users act responsibly, some do fail to recognise the risk that they can cause to other members of the public.
“Jet skis are powerful, fast craft and highly manoeuvrable.
“Using them in this manner, close to other water users, creates a high risk of collision. Thankfully this case did not result in the death of the rider or child.”