Two men have been found guilty of causing the deaths of six of their friends in a boat crash on Sydney Harbour after a day of drinking and drug taking in 2008.
Matthew Reynolds of Tweed Heads and Percy Small were among a group of 14 young people who decided to take a runabout for a joy ride from Balmain in the early hours of May 1.
Four women and two men were killed when the overloaded boat crashed with a fishing trawler off Bradley’s Head.
As the boat’s skipper, 32-year-old Matthew Reynolds has been found guilty of six counts of manslaughter because he handed the helm to Small before the crash.
Small had never been behind the wheel of a boat. The 26-year-old has been found guilty of six counts of dangerous navigation occasioning death.
He told the Supreme Court trial he had been drinking and using cannabis and cocaine throughout the day.
Reynolds’ girlfriend, Ashlei Ayres, was one of the victims of the crash. The Crown accused him of criminal negligence and said he had also been drinking and taking cocaine.
Reynolds chose not to give evidence. Outside the court today, his father, Charlie, said his son had unfairly shouldered the blame for the tragedy.
“They all lost on that day and especially Matthew,” he said. “Everyone lost.”
Charlie Reynolds said the skipper of the other boat had received different treatment to his son.
“It’s absolutely deplorable. There was no coroner’s inquest, no court of inquiry,” he said. “The whole system has fallen down due to lack of protocol.”
Both defence teams blamed the fishing vessel for the crash.
The jury deliberated for nearly a week after hearing evidence over nearly five weeks.
Supporters of the co-accused wept in court as the verdict was read out this afternoon. Relatives of some of those killed in the crash cried, hugged each other and punched the air.
Reynolds and Small remained stony-faced and did not make eye contact with each other.
Both were taken in custody to await sentencing.
The victims of the crash were: Alexander Rumiz, 22, Jessica Holloway, 25, Elisabeth Holder, 20, Stacey Wright, 21, Alex Nikakis, 30, and Ashlei Ayres, 32