by Chris Tobin
Three crew from a Timaru-based fishing vessel who were expected to be brought back to New Zealand as part of a special rescue mission from the Falkland Islands are having a longer stay.
The three men recently appeared in court in Port Stanley facing charges after an altercation in a local bar which required five people to receive treatment at King Edward Memorial Hospital.
“Sanford can confirm that Samuel Goldsworthy, Chassy Duncan and Sonny Ball pleaded guilty to a serious offence, following a fight at a bar in Port Stanley on June 29,” Sanford spokeswoman Carly Sheehan said.
“They are in prison and awaiting sentencing on July 27.”
The three men pleaded guilty to violent disorder charges.
The court was told they had indiscriminately assaulted a group of customers in a bar after they were refused service because the premises were closed.
After the incident, five patrons were admitted to King Edward Memorial Hospital, including one with a broken wrist.
One of the defendants struck a woman who was cowering on the floor and another patron was struck with a glass.
The trio were denied bail and could face up to two years in prison.
The three men were crew on the fishing vessel San Aspiring, whose return to New Zealand had been delayed by Covid -19 disruptions. Some crew members had been away for 140 days.
Sanford decided to send another Timaru-based vessel, San Aotea II, to pick up the 15-strong San Aspiring crew and bring them back to New Zealand, while also leaving a crew for San Aspiring to continue fishing off the South American coast.
After a 25-day trip, which included sailing around Cape Horn, San Aotea II reached the Falklands on June 30.
San Aotea II left Port Stanley and started its journey back to New Zealand on Saturday July 4, with the crew who had been fishing in the area since February,” Ms Sheehan said.
“The crew on board are from various parts of New Zealand, including some from the local Timaru region.”
She said the vessel was expected back in Timaru late July or early August.
Sanford had provided support for the three men left behind, including the services of a local lawyer to represent them, Ms Sheehan said.
The local Port Stanley newspaper, the Penguin News, published a letter from Sanford chief executive Volker Kuntzsch apologising for the incident.
“Sanford has a long history of visiting the Falkland Islands and we are grateful to have strong relationships with many of you.
“We are taking immediate action to make things as right as possible and to prevent such an incident from ever happening again.”
Sanford’s website said San Aspiring was currently used as an automated bottom longliner, fishing for ling in New Zealand and toothfish in the Ross Sea and around the islands of South Sandwich and South Georgia.
Its current fishing season was expected to finish in October.
The vessel has been licensed to fish for toothfish in South Georgia waters for some years.