A 42-year-old Batemans Bay man has been sentenced to 12 months in prison with a non-parole period of six months for the theft of yacht in December last year.
Marc Anthony Jessop appeared in Bega District Court on Wednesday, February 10, via video link from Goulbourn Correctional Complex charged with take and drive conveyance and the revocation of a community service order.
Mr Jessop, who lived across the road from the Batemans Bay Marina, where the vessel had been docked, was arrested on December 15 after a major air search located the yacht drifting off North Durras.
Marine Rescue, Police, Fisheries and the Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter were involved in the search, which lasted hours.
My mind went blank, I was sitting there. Being a fisherman all my life, one thing led to another.
Also aboard the yacht were Mr Jessop’s two sons, aged 13 and 8, as well as two family friends, aged 14 and 12.
Mr Jessop told the court he was sitting by the marina with his fishing gear after leaving home at about 7pm on Monday, December 14, to avoid an argument with his partner.
“My mind went blank, I was sitting there,” he told Judge Andrew Haeslar. “Being a fisherman all my life, one thing led to another.”
After removing the yacht from the dock, Mr Jessop’s children saw their father aboard and, after initially refusing their request to board, he gave in and the group embarked on a fishing trip.
“I was going to have a fish for a few hours,” Mr Jessop said.
As night approached Mr Jessop “laid anchor in a sheltered bay and fished all night. It was my stupid mistake,” he said.
Judge Haeslar questioned Mr Jessop’s rationale and made a point of stating Mr Jessop was not charged with either kidnapping or putting the children in danger, but rather making them accessories to the theft.
“You caused unknown angst to those who didn’t know where they [the children] were,” he said.
“One of the reasons we have law is to protect people’s property.”
Mr Jessop responded to Judge Haeslar’s questioning by saying “my children would not get off the boat” and “I know I should be punished”.
Mr Jessop was also sentenced to one month in jail for breaching the community service order with time already served.