Passengers had to be airlifted to safety as smoke filled the ferry’s corridors when Boden Hughes torched his cabin while smoking cannabis

Arsonist Boden Hughes has been jailed for 11 years after setting a North Sea ferry on fire while smoking cannabis in his cabin.

Hughes was so drunk he could barely walk or talk as he travelled to Amsterdam with friends aboard a DFDS ferry.

After being ejected from the ship’s casino for being too intoxicated, he went back to cabin number 568 alone and, as he tried to light a cannabis bong, the room went up in flames.

Damage caused by fire started on DFDS ferry by Boden Hughes

Damage caused by fire started on DFDS ferry by Boden Hughes

The crew were unable to bring the blaze under control using fire extinguishers and only the ship’s sprinkler system managed to douse the fire.

Many of the 946 passengers on board, including children and a pregnant woman, began to panic as smoke filled the narrow corridors of the ship.

A total of 27 people needed medical treatment for smoke inhalation while six passengers, including the pregnant woman, had to be winched to safety by a helicopter.

The drama unfolded around 25 miles out to sea aboard the King Seaways ferry, on December 28 last year.

As Hughes was jailed for that and a separate offence of stealing railway cable, it emerged the fire had left DFDS £800,000 out of pocket.

Judge James Goss QC, at Newcastle Crown Court, told him: “Passengers had to be evacuated from their cabins and there was panic and children were screaming.

“The fire caused enormous danger and panic and the total cost of the fire was £800,000.

“It was a spectacular piece of recklessness committed by a drunk man on bail at the time and the consequences could have been disastrous.

“Fires on a ship are even more serious than those on land because escape routes are limited and the stability of the vessel can be affected by the water used to put it out.”

The court heard Hughes, his girlfriend and others made a last minute decision to travel to Holland between last Christmas and New Year.

They took a bottle of vodka and drank that and other alcohol on board the ship after departing from North Shields.

Hughes then went off on his own for an hour, visiting the casino and consuming more drink.

Around 10pm he was trying to get back into his cabin but went to the wrong room. A member of security spotted him walking in a “zig zag fashion” and helped him back to his cabin.

Prosecutor Ian Lawrie QC said: “It was not easy to get him to the cabin, he had to keep steadying himself against the deck and walls.

“Eventually they got him in the cabin and it was within one minute or so that the fire alarm was activated on the main bridge.

“The response crew were asked to go to the deck and they found the corridor full of smoke.

“People were yelling and pushing each other in anticipation of the evacuation. One witness tells how she had to be winched into a helicopter while pregnant.”

Half-naked Hughes was partially out of his cabin and sprawled on the floor. When security picked him up he became aggressive and refused to do as he was told.

He was taken to another deck, where he then started fighting with James Curry, a friend of his.

In front of other, already terrified passengers, including children, the bare-chested pair started hitting each other and Curry also hit a member of security.

The pair were eventually detained and thrown in the ship’s cells as the captain aborted the trip and headed back to Tyneside.

The court heard DFDS had to pay £80,000 for repairs, £30,000 deviation costs, £25,000 medical evacuation costs, £475,000 for passenger liabilities, lost £170,000 in revenue and had to pay £25,000 legal costs.

Hughes, 27, of Fulwell Road, Sunderland, admitted arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered and affray for the fight with Curry. He got nine years for that plus two years for stealing copper cable from the rail network along with others.

Curry, 29, of Calshott Road, Sunderland, admitted assaulting a crew member during the fracas, threatening behaviour and the copper cable theft. He got three years and three months prison.

Christopher Morrison, for Hughes, said: “The person most at risk from this act of errant stupidity was the defendant.

“He wants to say he is extremely sorry, especially to those who had to be airlifted.”

Jane Foley, for Curry, said: “He became involved in a fight because of Hughes’ involvement with the incident which led to the fire.”

Newcastle Chronicle


A MAN accused of stealing fuel from several petrol stations faces trial.

Conrad Ayscough, of Hall Cross Road, Lowerhouses, was before Kirklees magistrates yesterday.

He faces four charges of making off without payment between February 4 and 23.

The 46-year-old is alleged to have stolen petrol from Birchencliffe Service Station as well as from service stations in Lockwood Road, Lockwood, and Wade Street and Salterhebble Hill, both in Halifax.

Ayscough denies the charges together with an additional charge of driving whilst disqualified.

He pleaded guilty to a charge of possession of a small quantity of class B drug amphetamine on February 23.

Magistrates told him that he faces trial at the Huddersfield court on July 2.

Ayscough was granted unconditional bail.

Huddersfield Examiner

A MAN with 22 previous convictions for driving while disqualified during a 25-year period of offending gave a false name when he was stopped by Whitehaven police.

Conrad Ayscough admitted driving while banned and was sent to prison for five months by Whitehaven magistrates. He also admitted giving a false name to obstruct police and driving without insurance.

Ayscough, 38, of Boothtarn, Halifax, was driving on Inkerman Terrace when he was pulled over by police, near the Marchon Social Club.

He gave the name John Edwards and was arrested on suspicion of taking a vehicle without consent. Subsequent enquiries revealed he was a banned driver, with his disqualification due to run until June 2007. He had previously served a term of imprisonment for driving while banned/drink driving, the court heard, and a warrant for his arrest was outstanding from Bradford Crown Court in relation to an alleged theft.

Whitehaven News

Conrad Ayscough also appears on the site here and here


Huddersfield man Conrad Ayscough was said to have pressured a vulnerable woman into lending him her Peugeot car for a couple of days last June, but instead of returning it he scrapped the vehicle without her knowledge

A prolific criminal with convictions for more than 180 offences has been jailed for 20 months after committing another series of crimes in West Yorkshire.

Huddersfield man Conrad Ayscough was said to have pressured a vulnerable woman into lending him her Peugeot car for a couple of days last June, but instead of returning it he scrapped the vehicle without her knowledge.

Ayscough, who had more than 20 convictions for driving while disqualified, later handled a stolen BMW car and made off in the vehicle on two occasions without paying for petrol.

The 47-year-old admitted theft of the Peugeot and handling the BMW as well as two offences of making off without payment, three offences of driving while disqualified and three allegations of driving without insurance.

Bradford Crown Court heard yesterday that Ayscough was arrested in August after being spotted behind the wheel of a Ford Focus.

In a victim impact statement the woman who owned the Peugeot described how she had difficulty walking too far because of medical condition and she had suffered a lost her independence when the car was taken.

She later told police that it had cost her £1000 to replace the car.

Ayscough’s lawyer Anne-Marie Hutton told the court that her client had been committing the offences at the time when he was acquainted with a woman in Sheffield.

Miss Hutton told Judge John Potter that her client had been in custody since his arrest in August, but if he was given his liberty he did have an offer of accommodation close to his home environment in Huddersfield.

She said his parents were elderly and Ayscough helped to look after his brother.

But Judge Potter described Ayscough’s record of offending as dreadful and said his crimes were self-centred and selfish.

In addition to jailing Ayscough Judge Potter also banned him from driving again for two years.

Huddersfield Examiner

Conrad Ayscough also appears in the website here and here


Eight rival football supporters have been jailed for their part in a violent brawl which erupted before a match between Huddersfield Town and Millwall.

Bradford Crown Court heard Huddersfield supporters started the trouble last April by throwing bottles and ashtrays at mini buses carrying Millwall fans.

Six Huddersfield fans and two Millwall fans have been jailed for between 18 and nine months.

Twelve others were also given varying sentences for their part in the fight.

The trouble flared when the mini buses stopped outside the Waterloo pub on Wakefield Road, in Huddersfield, an hour before the match on 16 April.

The following Huddersfield supporters were given prison sentences after admitting violent disorder:

Leon Stephenson, 30, of Taylor Hill Road, Huddersfield, was jailed for 18 months and given a six-year football banning order.

Danny Melia, 26, of Close Lea, Brighouse, was jailed for 15 months.

Andrew Miller, 38, of Brackenhall Road, Huddersfield, was jailed for 18 months.

Three other Huddersfield fans were also jailed:

Craig Roberts, 26, of Elm Street, Huddersfield, was jailed for 18 months for violent disorder and possessing an offensive weapon.

Conrad Ayscough, 44, of Hurstwood, Huddersfield, was jailed for 15 months for violent disorder.

Jeremy McDonald, 44, of Gramfield Road, Huddersfield, was jailed for 12 months for violent disorder.

The two Millwall supporters jailed for violent disorder were:

Ojay Roynan, 31, of Granville Road, Kent, who was jailed for nine months and given a six-year football banning order.

Glen Sherman, 36, of Hawkins Way, Essex, was jailed for nine months and given a six-year football banning order.

The following people were also sentenced:

Gerard Bradshaw, 47, of Greenwood Street, Huddersfield, given a six-month suspended jail sentence for affray.

Lee Donaghue, 39, of Melrose Close, Huddersfield, given a nine-month suspended jail sentence for affray.

Nicholas Palfreeman, 42, of Edgware Road, Huddersfield, given a six-month suspended jail sentence for assisting an offender.

Jake Peel, 22, of Beaumont Street, Huddersfield, given a 12-month suspended jail sentence for affray.

Kieron Moore, 20, of Daw Royds, Huddersfield, given a nine-month suspended jail sentence for violent disorder.

Oliver Dyson, 20, of Benomley Road, Huddersfield, given a nine-month suspended jail sentence for violent disorder.

Andrew Hunt, 26, of Denholme Street, Rastrick, given a nine-month suspended jail sentence for affray.

Ryan McDougal, 32, of Marlow Gardens, London, given a nine-month suspended jail sentence and a four-year football banning order for violent disorder.

Paul Cremin, 36, of Dunblane Road, London, given a 12-month suspended jail sentence for violent disorder.

Darren Dunphy, 30, Granville Road, Kent, given a 10-month suspended jail sentence for violent disorder.

Dean Harrison, 35, of Kitto Road, London, given a 10-month suspended jail sentence for violent disorder.

BBC News

This story is from 2011 and relates to Conrad Ayscough who can also be found on this website here and here

A FIRE on a North Sea ferry which sparked a major rescue operation when it was carrying around 1,000 people was started by a drunk passenger who was smoking cannabis in a cabin, a court has heard.

Boden George Hughes, 26, admitted arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered, during a brief hearing at Newcastle Crown Court, where his trial had been due to start.

The fire on the DFDS Newcastle to Amsterdam service happened at around 11pm on December 28 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.

Hughes was remanded in custody and warned to expect a lengthy prison sentence.

Judge Goss said: “Be under no illusions as to the seriousness of the crimes you have admitted today.

“This (arson) was a very serious offence which will attract a substantial sentence of imprisonment.”

Ian Lawrie QC, prosecuting, said figures will be produced at the next hearing to show the losses incurred by DFDS after the fire.

He said the helicopter rescue alone cost £50,000.

Mr Lawrie said a reconstruction of the fire showed that a blaze in a cabin using the same combustible clothing took just two minutes to engulf the space.

Hughes was guilty of “spectacular recklessness”, he said.

He added: “He was clearly drunk, he was clearly also on drugs.”

After the terrifying experience of a fire and rescue operation miles out to sea, Hughes’s fellow passengers faced the frustration of returning to Newcastle.

Passengers hugged family members in relief at the ferry terminal when they were finally allowed off, with some vowing never to sail again.

Julie Bell and Shaun Richardson, from Washington, Tyne and Wear, were on a weekend away.

At the time she said: “It was like a scene from a movie, a chaotic mess, horrible.

“It was terrifying and I won’t be travelling by boat again. I think I will stay in the UK from now on, it’s a lot safer.”

The King Seaways vessel was carrying 946 people at the time, plus crew.

RAF helicopters from Leconfield near Hull and Boulmer, Northumberland, were scrambled to the vessel along with RNLI lifeboats from Bridlington and Filey.

As he was led away, Hughes, dressed in a grey sweatshirt for the hearing, said: “Thank you, Your Honour.”

Sunderland Echo


FOUR English Defence League (EDL) members have been convicted of a religiously aggravated offence following a Thatcham town centre protest.

The prosecution was brought after up to 20 people, some draped in St George Cross flags and one wearing a rubber pig mask, descended on The Broadway on the night on Friday, February 28.

Their target was Hosans kebab van.

Chants of “muslim groomers off our streets – go back to your own country,” and “no surrender to the Taliban” filled the room at Reading Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday as footage from police officers’ body cameras was screened.

Naomi Edwards, prosecuting, said: “Protesting is fine and proper but this went beyond what’s acceptable.”

In the dock were 22-year-old Rory Rowbottom of Hartmead Road, Thatcham; Julie Anne Worthington, aged 35, of Russell Road, Reading; 50-year-old Simon Brammer of Haywards Close, Southampton, Hampshire and Gary Hazel, aged 38, of Forsyth Gardens, Bournemouth, Dorset.

A fifth defendant, 44-year-old Edward Cullerne Scovell of Donnington Gardens, Reading, failed to turn up and was convicted in his absence.

They had been charged with a Section 5 offence of religiously aggravated harassment but a scheduled three-day trial was avoided after all but Mr Hazel – who denied the offence – admitted a lesser charge of using religiously aggravated, threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress.

Ms Edwards said the protest was against a “perceived injustice” – specifically, that police had failed to properly investigate an EDL member’s assertion that young girls were bring groomed.

Giving evidence, Mr Hazel said: “An employee of Hosans van was known to give alcohol, free food and drugs to young girls aged 13 to 14. The parents of one girl told one of our supporters and he did a sting operation. He sent a text message (pretending to be the girl) to the man and got messages back like : ‘I love, you; don’t tell your mum; meet me after school.’”

He claimed: “Our supporter, who gave the texts to the police, was arrested himself. The young girls offered to make statements to police but they weren’t believed and warned that, as the EDL was involved, they faced possible charges themselves.”

But Mr Hazel then denied specifically targeting the van and claimed the slogans were “humourous, football-style chants” aimed at “raising awareness.”

Ms Edwards asked: “Phrases like ‘paedo kebabs off our streets’ wouldn’t have caused distress to the occupants of Hosans kebab van?”

Mr Hazel insisted the chants were “not directed at anyone.”

Convicting Mr Hazel, district judge Davinder Lachhar said: “There was suspicion that an employee of this van was involved in grooming young girls; you felt the police and your MP didn’t investigate to your satisfaction – therefore you took it into your own hands to go to this particular van.

“It doesn’t take a genius to work out why. To say these comments weren’t directed towards them is absolute nonsense.”

She added: “You were shouting the name of the van and making ‘paedo’ comments. I’ve seen the behaviour of the group – you weren’t just ‘raising awareness’ – far from it. There was someone wearing a pig mask, ‘bacon’ being shouted and things about muslims being shouted. It was getting out of hand.

“You say you don’t remember children being in the area – of course you were aware. You had the megaphone and I don’t believe for a moment that your comments weren’t aimed at that particular van. If this wasn’t religiously aggravated, I don’t know what is.”

Mr Hazel was fined £200 and orderedto pay £200 costs plus a statutory victim surcharge of £20.

Mr Bramer was fined £150 with £100 costs and £20 surcharge.

Mr Rowbottom and Miss Worthington were eached fined £100 with £100 costs and £20 surcharge.

A warrant was issued for Mr Scovell’s arrest.

Newbury Today


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