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Fine and compensation for boat owner

A boat owner has been fined and must pay compensation for failing to register his boat on the River Thames in Surrey, UK, following a prosecution by the Environment Agency (EA).

Tom Rhima, of Ardrossan Gardens, Worcester Park, Surrey, was charged with failure to register a vessel under the Environment Agency Inland Waterways Order 2010 and failure to obey direction to unmoor under byelaw 58 of the Thames Navigation Licensing and General Byelaws 1993.

Rhima pleaded guilty to both charges when he appeared at Staines magistrates’ court.

Environment Agency waterways enforcement officers visited the vessel, HUI, on several occasions serving enforcement notices on each visit as registration details were not on display.

On two occasions, the EA officers were accompanied by Surrey Fire and Rescue officers, who served prohibition notices against the vessel due to safety concerns and taped off the gangway.

Anyone who uses the River Thames for boating should expect to contribute towards the upkeep of the river, and we will always seek to recover unpaid boat registration fees.

Colin Chiverton, EA environment manager

A further visit by officers was paid to Rhima’s residential address however there was still no attempt to pay the registration fees or to move the boat from its location as directed.

In court, the defendant claimed the previous owner had told him that HUI came with mooring rights and was registered – neither of which was the case.

“Anyone who uses the River Thames for boating should expect to contribute towards the upkeep of the river, and we will always seek to recover unpaid boat registration fees,” said Colin Chiverton, EA environment manager.

“The defendant had ample opportunity to pay, but unfortunately we were left with no choice but to take the matter to court.”

Rhima was fined £50 for the registration offence and £50 for the byelaw offence, with a victim surcharge of £40.

He was further ordered to pay £1,893.60 compensation to the EA, the sum being equal to the annual boat registration fee that should have been paid for the period 1 January to 31 December 2023.

Owners of all types of boats, including paddleboards, must register their boats with the EA for use on the non-tidal River Thames, and pay the relevant registration fees.

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