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Skipper who died during yacht drug raid named

By CMScott  |  Posted: October 28, 2013


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A SKIPPER who died after falling from the mast of his yacht during a £20 million drugs raid on the Isles of Scilly has been named.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPPC), which is investigating the incident, confirmed he was Christiaan Woestenburg from Holland.

The 62-year-old died during an operation by UK Border Force on June 17.

He is believed to have climbed the 40ft mast of the yacht Windrose as she was moored in St Mary’s Harbour after finding border police officers on board.

During the raid 140kg of cocaine was seized with an estimated value of £20 million.

The Windrose was initially towed into St Mary’s by the port’s lifeboat after an SOS from the skipper to Falmouth Coastguard.

Mr Woestenburg is believed to have been south east of Scillies en route from Portugal to Falmouth when he radioed the coastguard complaining of fatigue and having trouble with his rigging.

Border Force officers arrived in St Mary's on board their cutter Seeker and raided the Windrose at 8.30pm the next day.

It is unclear why the solo yachtsman climbed the mast and then plunged to the quay below, suffering severe head injuries.

He was airlifted to Treliske hospital by a helicopter from RNAS Culdrose, but did not survive.

Following the man's death, the Seeker left for Newlyn that night.

The Windrose was towed to the same port and searched, and the discovery of the cocaine was revealed the following day.

In June a Border Force spokesman said it was "a substantial quantity", at the time reported to be approximately 200 kilos.

He said: “It is estimated that if cut and sold in the UK the drugs could have had a street value of around £20 million.

"The drugs have now been removed from the Windrose and taken to a secure location for further analysis.”

An IPCC investigation was launched immediately, as is routine when people die during any police operation, but Mr Woestenburg was not officially named until now.

Last week the IPCC said: “An investigation into his death is being carried out by Devon and Cornwall police and managed by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

“Investigators used DNA samples taken from Mr Woestenburg to establish a match with a close relative. CCTV has also been obtained.

“Mr Woestenburg’s family has also been updated about the process of the investigation, which will now be finalised before an inquest into the death is held. Talks have also been held with police in the Netherlands.”

IPCC Commissioner Jennifer Izekor said: "I would like to extend my sympathies to members of Mr Woestenburg’s family and assure them that the investigation is progressing well.”

An inquest into Mr Woestenburg’s death has been opened and adjourned at Truro coroner’s court in Cornwall.

The news of the £20m cocaine seizure prompted renewed concerns about the vulnerability of Cornwall to drug smuggling because of its long coastlines and heavy sea traffic.

At the time St Ives MP Andrew George asked the UK Border Force to review the security of its cover for West Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. In June he said: "I suspect that this seizure was more the product of luck than judgement. I had raised concerns when the last Government cut the numbers of Customs officers and facilities around our coast. I fear that drug smugglers can just walk in through our 'front door'!”

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