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Fatal fall during raid on yacht

By The Cornishman  |  Posted: June 20, 2013

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POLICE are continuing to investigate the death of a man who fell from the mast of his yacht while it was being searched by Border Force officers on the Isles of Scilly.

The Dutch-registered 11m sailing boat Windrose was towed into St Mary's by the Isles of Scilly lifeboat on Sunday after its solo skipper called Falmouth coastguard.

He was suffering fatigue and experiencing problems with his rigging nine miles south-west of the Bishop Rock lighthouse off Scilly.

Then on Monday night officers from the Border Force – formerly the UK Border Agency – raided his boat.

The organisation, which has no permanent presence on the islands, is responsible for tackling smuggling and illegal immigration.

During a search of the yacht moored on the main quay in St Mary's harbour the skipper is reported to have climbed the mast and then fallen, sustaining severe head injuries.

The man, who was in his sixties, was flown to hospital by a helicopter scrambled from RNAS Culdrose but died later.

Devon and Cornwall Police were alerted at 8.30pm on Monday night and cordoned off the quay, and investigating officers were flown to Scilly on the police's helicopter.

Details of the man's nationality, age and that he had fallen from the mast were confirmed by a police spokeswoman.

The death has been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) by the Border Force.

An investigation at the scene put the quay out of action for a number of hours but on Wednesday morning St Mary's harbour master Dale Clark said it was now operating as normal and the Windrose had been towed away.

"She was moored to a buoy out on the harbour for most of the day and then she was towed away last night," he said.

"The Border Force have all left, too."

It is believed the Border Force towed the yacht to Falmouth docks.

Scilly is often talked of as a spot vulnerable to being used by smugglers as a staging-post to get drugs and other contraband into the UK.

Last night a Border Force spokesman declined to confirm that the raid was drug-related but confirmed that officicals were assisting the police in their investigation and that the incident had been referred to the IPCC.

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