Manslaughter conviction ends in prison term

An Australian boatbuilder, found guilty of manslaughter in April because of faulty construction of a yacht that led to four deaths, was sentenced to three years of jail time on Friday. Alex Cittadini, the director and engineer at Applied Alloy Yachts, could serve the full sentence, but will not be eligible for parole for at least 18 months, reports IBI magazine.

Four crew members of the racing yacht Excalibur died after the boat’s keel broke and it capsized in 2002. An inquest in 2005 found that the keel had been cut and re-welded during construction.

NSW District Court Judge Stephen Norrish granted bail for Cittadini while an appeal is heard. “The degree of negligence was serious,” said the judge. “As the manager of the business he was under a duty (to provide) proper quality control.”

But Norrish was not convinced that Cittadini knew about the shoddy workmanship and said he would probably have rectified it had he known. “There’s no suggestion he did the welding,” said Norrish. “The person who did it may have hid it from the accused.”

The court heard that Cittadini was a man of excellent character, a family man, honest and professional. He was a sailing enthusiast and a member of the Royal Melbourne Yacht Club for 25 years.

Adrian Presland, who was in charge of overseeing the welding, was acquitted in April of the same manslaughter charges. Prosecutors failed to prove that he was responsible beyond a reasonable doubt for the work on the Excalibur.