In the Media

Cornish student who stole family yacht jailed after mother presses charges

PUBLISHED October 13, 2011

Annabel Sloley says decision to report son Oliver for joyride in ?10,000 yacht was horrible, 'but you have to do what is right' A student who stole his family's ?10,000 yacht and needed to be rescued by a lifeboat crew has been jailed for nine months after his mother reported him to police. Oliver Sloley, 22, took the 9m (30ft) vessel before getting into difficulty off the coast of Cornwall. Lifeboat crews found him after he fired a flare and he was towed to shore, where he faced the wrath of his mother. Sloley, who was in his second year studying geology at Plymouth university, was jailed for nine months at Truro crown court after admitting taking the yacht without consent and a string of other charges. Speaking after his conviction, Sloley's mother, Annabel, 47, of Penzance, Cornwall, said she felt duty-bound to go to the police but described the decision to do so as "horrible". "That's the only way I can describe it, absolute hell," she said. "It's not what you want as a parent but have to do what you feel is right. "It's not even the fact it was my boat, it was the fact the lifeboat crew got involved and spent three hours searching for them when they should be saving people's lives who have got in difficulty through no fault of their own." Mrs Sloley was away for the weekend when her son took the boat from its moorings at Restronguet, near Falmouth, south Cornwall, last August despite the engine being faulty. Sloley and a friend ? neither of whom had any sailing experience or lifejackets ? managed to sail several miles along the coast and navigate around the treacherous Lizard peninsula. They got into a difficulty a few hours later and called for help but were unable to read their global positioning system and tell rescuers where they were. A lifeboat located them when they fired a flare and the yacht was towed back into Newlyn harbour. The boat, which had been in the family for seven years, was in a state of disrepair at the time and has now been sold. Mrs Sloley added: "The Lizard is not a place to play. Had someone fallen in it could have been very different. I was not in Cornwall at the time and it was quite a shock to be told your son has stolen your boat and had to be rescued. "I know it was August, the sun was shining and the wind may have died down but there is no excuse. Taking him to court was very difficult. It was horrible, but I am of the mind that once my mind is made up then that's it." Asked about her relationship with her son, she added: "We are fine about it. It's been dragging on for 14 months so we've got used to it. We will be fine. He has accepted he was in the wrong and that's it as far as we're concerned. I told him 'sorry mate, but I'm going to have to report this'. He accepted it, what else could he do?" When the boat was brought ashore two stolen outboards and two fuel tanks were found on board, for which he pleaded guilty to two counts of receiving stolen goods. He also admitted stealing two cheques from his mother and making off without payment for food and drink from four pubs in Cornwall. Philip Lee, prosecuting, told Monday's hearing: "The last thing Mrs Sloley wanted to do was to see her son prosecuted, but as a sensible mother she felt it right to make a complaint." Joss Ticehurst, defending, said: "He has wasted his future to a very great extent." Sentencing him, Judge Christopher Elwen said: "For some reason best known to yourself you decided to wreck your life, and possibly your prospects for the future. The most serious thing you did was to take your mother's boat to sea without her permission and as a result of your inexperience the Penlee lifeboat had to be launched and you had to be rescued." The judge imposed jail sentences totalling nine months to be served concurrently. Crime Steven Morris © 2011 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds