Man in court after North Sea ferry fire

The Northern Echo: Boden George Hughes Boden George Hughes

A PASSENGER accused of starting a fire on board a packed North Sea ferry allegedly caused £815,000 worth of damage to the vessel.

Boden George Hughes appeared in court today (Tuesday, December 31) charged with arson on board the DFDS ferry King Seaways en route to Amsterdam.

The 26-year-old, from Sunderland, is accused of setting fire to a cabin during the trip from North Shields to Holland on Saturday night.

The boat, carrying 946 passengers and 127 crew, was forced to turn back to Tyneside when fire broke out five hours into the voyage as the vessel was 30 miles off Yorkshire coast.

Crew members managed to extinguish the blaze, but six people - including a pregnant woman - were rescued by RAF helicopters and airlifted to hospital in Scarborough for precautionary checks. A further 17 people were treated by doctors on board the 30,000-tonne vessel.

At North Tyneside Magistrates Court, Mr Hughes, of Fulwell Road, stood in the dock charged with committing arson with intent in that he "damaged by fire cabin 568 of the King Seaways DFDS ferry to the value of approximately £815,000".

The charge also stated that Mr Hughes allegedly intended 'to destroy property or damage by recklessness as to whether such property would be destroyed or damaged and intending by the damage to endanger the life of another".

Mr Hughes, who wore a grey Adidas sweatshirt, spoke only to confirm his age, date of birth and address.

He is also charged with affray in that he threatened "unlawful violence towards another".

Defence barrister Tony Southwick made no application for bail and Mr Hughes was remanded in custody.

Tracy Plant, prosecuting, told Chair of the Bench Mavin Johnson: "I invite you to commit this case to Crown Court."

Mr Hughes will next appear at Newcastle Crown Court on January 14.

A 28-year-old man also arrested on board the ferry on suspicion of affray has been released on bail pending further inquires.

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