Man Admits North Sea Ferry Fire

A man from Sunderland's admitted causing a fire on a North Sea ferry which sparked a major rescue operation.

The ferry was carrying around 1,000 people when the fire broke out in December.

Newcastle Crown Court heard the blaze was started by a drunk passenger who was smoking cannabis in a cabin.

26 year old Boden George Hughes admitted arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered, during a brief hearing.

The fire on the DFDS Newcastle to Amsterdam service happened at around 11pm on December 28th, when the vessel was 30 miles off the North Yorkshire coast.

Six people were winched off the ferry by the RAF and helicoptered to hospital.

Hughes, who also admitted affray, pleaded guilty to arson on the basis that he was drunk, was smoking cannabis in a bong, and the fire started when his lighter's flame set a pile of clothes ablaze.

He had altered his lighter so it produced a constant flame, he claimed.

Judge James Goss, the Recorder of Newcastle, will sentence Hughes, of Fulwell Road, Sunderland, in September.

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UPDATED 18th March 2014

A man from Sunderland accused of starting a fire on a North Sea ferry which sparked a major rescue operation will argue the court has no jurisdiction in his case

26 year old Boden George Hughes, is charged with arson and affray after a fire broke out on a DFDS service between North Shields and Amsterdam on December 28th.

He appeared before Newcastle Crown Court via a videolink from prison, but did not enter pleas.

A hearing will be held on May 8th where the issue of jurisdiction will be argued.

It was understood the legal team for Hughes, of Fulwell Road, Sunderland, will say the vessel was not British-flagged and was on the "high seas" at the time of the alleged offence, and therefore the court has no jurisdiction.

The prosecution will challenge that argument.

A provisional trial date of June 30th has been set.

Judge Jeremy Freedman said:
"Boden Hughes, the case has been adjourned today, you are not being asked to formally plead to the charges because there is to be a legal argument to hear whether the crown court has jurisdiction in your case.''

Six people were winched off the ferry in darkness by an RAF crew and the ferry had to return to North Shields after the fire broke out in one of the cabins.

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