x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

British yachtsman denies mocking Dubai coastguard by 'showing soles of his feet'

Accused disguised his vessel's licence number with balloons and mocked a coastguard when he was caught fishing illegally off the Palm Jumeirah, a court heard.

DUBAI // A British yachtsman caught fishing illegally near the Palm Jumeirah disguised his licence number with balloons and mocked a coastguard by showing him the soles of his feet, a court heard today.

Police alerted the coastguard after receiving a report on February 28 this year that SB, 48, an investment businessman, was taking photos of beachgoers with his iPhone.

When the coastguard arrived to question him he responded by taking photos of their vessel and mocking them with his feet before threatening to report them to the British Embassy, prosecutors told the Criminal Court.

"I asked him for the yacht's ownership records which he produced willingly, but when I asked him to follow us to the coastguard department, he refused," recalled one of the coastguards, SA, 40

"He then changed his mind and agreed to follow us but mocked me by raising his foot in my face four times."

The guard asked the Briton why he had covered the yacht's licence number with balloons. The Briton replied he had put them there by accident.

The Briton also tried to delay their journey back to shore, said the guard.

"It took us three and a half hours to reach the coastguard department. It should have taken only half an hour but the Briton kept stalling and saying that his engine was too hot for him to drive any faster. But when we got closer to shore, he drove much faster," noted a second coastguard MS, 35.

The Briton insisted that he drove slowly only because he was low on fuel. He said that when the coastguards approached he complied with their orders to stop fishing. "When they asked me to follow them, I asked them what I had done wrong but they did not answer me," he said.

The Briton denied charges of assaulting and mocking an officer, fishing in a prohibited area and covering his yacht's numbers.

The next hearing was scheduled for July 14.

salamir@thenational.ae