December 10, 2023

Enchanter skipper appears in court for first time over North Cape fishing tragedy that killed five

Related video: Maritime New Zealand has revealed to Newshub it is laying charges against the Enchanter fishing charter company and its skipper Lance Goodhew after the deaths of five Waikato men off North Cape last year.

The skipper of the Enchanter charter boat that capsized off North Cape last year, killing five Waikato men, has appeared in court for the first time on Monday morning.  

The skipper of the boat, Lance Goodhew, appeared in Kaitaia District Court on Monday morning, with his lawyer Fletcher Pilditch successfully arguing for an adjournment to make the charge clearer.

Maritime NZ alleges Goodhew breached his obligation as a skipper by leaving the Three Kings, which is not disputed, but it’s his decision to proceed around North Cape, “in the manner he did” that his legal counsel is seeking more clarity on.

At issue, the five words “in the manner he did”. 

Goodhew is facing one charge under section 48 of the Health and Safety at Work Act.

His company will face two charges after the Enchanter was capsized by a rogue wave as the group of 10 was returning home from a big game fishing trip at the Three Kings Islands.

Along with Goodhew, Waikato men Ben Stinson, Shay Ward, Jayde Cook, and Northland deckhand Kobe O’Neill also survived.

Maritime NZ director Kirstie Hewlett confirmed in March that charges had been filed in the Kaitaia District Court and that Goodhew is facing one charge. 

She said two charges have been filed against the charter company, one under section 48 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 and one under section 67B of the Maritime Transport Act 1994.

“Maritime NZ’s investigation included interviews with a range of people, understanding the weather and sea state on the days of the journey, reviewing the design and construction of the vessel, its maintenance, the culture and processes of the organisation and the navigation of the journey,” Hewlett said.

“We have recently been in contact with those impacted by this tragic incident to inform them of our decision to prosecute.”  

“As the matter is now before the Court, we will not be commenting further until proceedings are completed.”

Newshub can reveal the charge against the skipper of the Enchanter relates to an allegation that Goodhew left the Three Kings Islands in bad weather and should not have rounded North Cape when he did.

The Health and Safety at Work charge against his company relate to his maritime transport plan and how he planned his journey.

The Maritime Transport Act 1994 charge relates to his medical certificate being out of date.

Those who died in the disaster were:

  • Geoffrey James Allen, aged 72, from Cambridge 
  • Mark Keith Walker, also known as “Skid”, aged 41, from Cambridge 
  • Mark Kenneth Sanders, aged 43, from Te Awamutu 
  • Michael Patrick Lovett, aged 72, from Cambridge 
  • Richard Eldon Bright, aged 63, from Cambridge.

The survivors and families of Sanders, Walker, Allen, Bright and Lovett, told Newshub in March the charges against Goodhew are a lot to digest as they prepare to commemorate the anniversary.

In the year since the maritime disaster, Goodhew has never contacted the widows or acknowledged the loss of their loved ones.

Several of them have told Newshub the lack of contact has been both “surprising and pretty disappointing”.

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