Boat death accused tells of the moment he called 999

Lauren Thornton, 10, and her mother Kelly Webster, 36, both from Leyland
Lauren Thornton, 10, and her mother Kelly Webster, 36, both from Leyland
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The man accused of causing the deaths of Leyland mum and daughter Kelly Webster and Lauren Thornton broke down in court as the jury heard police interviews in which he recounted the moment he found them on board the boat.

Matthew Eteson, 42, denies gross negligence manslaughter.

In a recorded police interview read to Preston Crown Court, Eteson, of Appleton Road, Hale, said he, Kelly and Lauren, 10, had gone to Windermere after a difficult week arranging the funeral for his friend who had died.

On the Sunday evening they had spent time celebrating a friend’s 50th birthday at Ferry Nab Jetty.

The following morning Eteson went for chips for the family and they sat below deck to eat them.

He said: “I went to sleep. At that point I had the fan heater on. It may be a bit hazy.

“At that point we had the fan heater on, we had the door shut and the back door shut in the cabin because the generator was on and it was noisy.

“I fell asleep and when I woke up I just couldn’t move. I remember waking up thinking ‘bloody hell’. I thought it was my heart because I’ve had a couple of problems with my heart.

“I couldn’t move my fingers and things like that.

“I seem to think the top hatch door was open.

“I’ve been over this - I can’t remember if I was there five minutes or an hour, I don’t know.

“I just remember going up and thinking, ‘what’s wrong with me?’

“I don’t remember whether at that point I turned the generator off or not. I just felt pains in my chest and my fingers. It was like nothing worked.

“I remember saying ‘help’ or something, and banging. I didn’t know what, I just knew there was something not right with me. I looked around and that’s when I could see them both lying there.

“I went to try and find my phone. I didn’t know where my phone was and I obviously dialled 999.

“I got out of the boat and I remember the ambulance.”