Drunk woman, 51, crashed stolen ferry while shouting ‘I’m Jack Sparrow’

September 20, 2012 | by | 0 Comments
 Alison Whelan crashed a stolen passenger ferry while she was drunk

Alison Whelan crashed a stolen passenger ferry while she was drunk

A woman high on drink and drugs who stole a passenger ferry and crashed into boats shouting ”I’m Jack Sparrow” has been jailed.

Reckless Alison Whelan, 51, was on a two-day bender when she climbed onto the moored 100-seater Dart Princess in Dartmouth, Devon.

Whelan was so drunk on Lambrini she dialled 999 and officers raced to the scene but she then unmoored the 45ft vessel and started drifting away.

She was heard shouting “I’m Jack Sparrow” and “I’m A Pirate” as she made her escape on the double-decker ferry. Jack Sparrow is the fictional character played by Johnny Depp in the hit films Pirates of the Caribbean.

But the boat then began hitting other vessels ”like a pinball machine” – including a £70,000 catamaran, Torquay Magistrates Court in Devon heard.

The boat finally came to rest an hour later a mile upstream where lifeboats arrived to tow Whelan and her accomplice back to the harbour.

When arrested she claimed that she ”would have ended up in St Tropez” if she hadn’t been caught.

More than 30 ambulance, police, coastguard and RNLI officers were drafted in during the incident, a court heard.

Whelan, of Paignton, Devon, denied ggravated vehicle taking but was found guilty and jailed for 122 days.

She caused thousands of pounds worth of damage, including £1,500 to the ferry itself and £300 to a moored vessel called Tomcat.

Speaking after the hearing, PC Clare Pearson said: ”This lady put the police, ambulance and coastguard to an awful lot of trouble.

”The amount of people called out to recover the boat and the damage caused to other vessels made it quite an expensive night.”

The Dart Princess Ferry is rescued after it was stolen by Whelan, who was high on drink and drugs and though she was Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean

The Dart Princess Ferry is rescued after it was stolen by Whelan, who was high on drink and drugs and though she was Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean

 

Whelan had been drinking Lambrini and eating poisonous hallucinogenic plants when she headed to the ferry late at night on September 10, 2011.

The boat is usually used for wildlife cruises the Torbay area but had been hired for a different job and was moored in nearby Kingswear.

Whelan and her friend Tristam Locke climbed aboard and she then dialled 999 and said she thought she was having a seizure.

Paramedics arrived and found the defendant “rambling” and drunk while Locke became abusive and pushed one of the medics over.

Ambulance technician Peter Jordan said he and his colleague waited in their vehicle a few yards away from the ferry for police to arrive.

They then watched through the wing mirror as the ferry started to move.

Witnesses say the boat then began drifting ”like a pinball machine” down the River Dart as Whelan shouted ”I’m Jack Sparrow, I’m A Pirate”, the court heard.

Ambulance technician Peter Jordan said: “We saw it drifting down the estuary.

“I heard a female voice saying they were pirates and asking what are we going to do now?”

Kingswear harbour in Devon from where Whelan stole the passenger ferry after a two-day bender

Kingswear harbour in Devon from where Whelan stole the passenger ferry after a two-day bender

Police arrived and were told the suspects were 200 yards away and heading towards dozens of other moored vessels.

Whelan later told police she untied two or three of the ropes connecting the boat to the shore because she kept tripping over them.

She said ”before she knew it” she felt the boat moving and “noticed the hotels getting a long way away”.

Police joined lifeboat crews on the river trying to intercept the boat and the harbour master was also alerted.

But the suspects shouted abuse from the out-of-control vessel and made jokes about being kidnapped, the court was told.

Whelan was heard taunting police by saying “what are you going to do now?” and “I believe this is out of your jurisdiction”.

Officers watched as the boat span into a £70,000 fibreglass catamaran called Force Majeure and a moored vessel called Tomcat.

It finally came to rest in still water about a mile upstream where lifeboats arrived to ferry them back to the harbour.

Whelan admitted that she and Locke had been on a drinking spree and consumed deadly nightshade, which caused her to hallucinate.

She admitted she could get a “bit cocky” when drunk but said she panicked when she saw the police.

The court the ferry had been moored securely with seven ropes an hour or so before it was taken and was not seriously damaged.

Ashley Lane, the ferry’s operations manager, said the would-be sailors were both “exceptionally lucky to be alive”.

He said: “If the tide had been going out instead of coming in the boat could have been pulled onto rocks and the two of them could have been killed.”

Magistrates had to decide whether Whelan, a chronic alcoholic who is awaiting a liver transplant, unhitched all the ropes knowing she would float away.

She denied the charge but magistrates found her guilty and she was also in breach of a four-month suspended sentence.

Locke, of Crediton, Devon, was fined #100 in a separate court case last year after admitting assaulting the ambulance technician by beating.

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