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Maritime press release -

Jailed tug skipper free to appeal

Peter Leask was jailed but has now been freed
The skipper of a coastguard tug jailed after it ran aground off Shetland while he was drunk has been freed pending an appeal against his sentence.
Peter Leask, 42, was jailed for eight months in April after admitting he was more than three times over the legal alcohol limit while in charge.

Leask also admitted two other charges, including spilling 84 tonnes of diesel oil into the sea after hitting rocks.

He was freed following a hearing at the Court of Appeal in Edinburgh.

Listing heavily

Lerwick Sheriff Court had originally heard that the repair and clean-up operation costs were more than £3m, and Sheriff Graham Napier said custody was the only option.

The Anglian Sovereign ran aground on 3 September last year.

Crew members were winched to safety by a coastguard helicopter, leaving Leask at the bridge.

Listing heavily, the tug limped into Scalloway Harbour under his command.

An emergency clean-up operation sprang into action with the bulk of the leaking oil cleaned up and the rest dispersed naturally.

Tonnes of diesel fuel was spilled when the tug ran aground

However, wildlife in the area suffered from the spill and the vessel was so badly damaged a section had to be rebuilt.

Leask admitted two other charges of causing pollution and refloating the ship after the collision before assessing the damage.

Sheriff Napier told Leask that his actions were reckless in the extreme.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), said it was an "extremely serious offence".

Members of his family wept outside the court room as Leask was led away to begin his sentence.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) said Leask was the first person to receive a custodial sentence for pollution in Scotland.

No date has yet been set for the actual appeal hearing.

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