Certificate Fraud Lands Cornish Fisherman in Court

A Cornish fisherman has this week pleaded guilty to breaches of the Fraud Act 2006 and Safety Training Regulations, and has been made to pay a total of £14,528 in fines and costs.

44-year-old Alan Fairless, of St. Austell, is the owner and operator of the lobster boat “Flying Spray IV” based in Charlestown. In January 2012, the boat was inspected by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) but Mr. Fairless failed to produce evidence of completion of the mandatory safety courses in Sea Survival, Fire Fighting, First Aid and Safety Awareness. He was asked to produce the required certificates within 14 days.

He told the MCA he could not find the certificates, and was then requested to provide evidence of dates booked to attend the required courses. In May, he was issued with an Improvement Notice to complete the safety courses. Despite saying he had to cancel one course to attend a funeral, Mr. Fairless then contacted the MCA at the end of June to say he had found his certificates. Checks on the documents found them to be fakes.

Mr. Fairless was arrested and interviewed by Devon and Cornwall police and bailed. On answering his bail in January this year, he was charged with one count of breaching sections 1 and 2 of the Fraud Act 2006 and one count of breaching section 2 and 3 of the Fishing Vessel (Safety Training) Regulations 1989, as amended.

At a hearing today before Bodmin Magistrates Court, Mr. Fairless was fined £5,000 for the fraud charge, £3,300 for the breach of Safety Training Regulations charge and made to pay costs totalling £6,228.

Tony Heslop, Area Operations Manager (Survey & Inspection) for South-West England said: “The MCA takes a very serious view of the actions of Mr. Fairless. The safety training regime for fishermen has been put in place to save lives and improve safety on fishing vessels. His attempt to defraud the safety training structure devalues the certificates that others have worked hard to achieve. By attempting to use fake certificates, Mr. Fairless has placed his life and the lives of others at risk.”

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