A speedboat owner accused of circling a pod of dolphins at high speed has denied recklessly disturbing an endangered species.

Christopher Barker, 44, is said to have come within 20 to 30m of the group, at an estimated 20 to 25 knots (30 mph).

A witness said the animals appeared “to become agitated” and scattered, Scarborough Magistrates’ Court heard.

The court heard Mr Barker disputed this account and insisted his boat had been stationary.

In a police interview, he told officers he had never seen a dolphin before and was excited, so wanted to take photographs.

Mr Barker said he had recently bought the boat, had no previous sailing experience and was unaware of legal restrictions around approaching dolphins.

His actions were “not intentional or reckless, but stupid”, he said.

His lawyer, Bob Vining, told the court he disputed the witness evidence, and photographs taken from his boat would show the vessel was stationary at the time.

Mr Barker, of The Caravan, Brompton Carr Lane, Scarborough, will stand trial at the magistrates’ court on 25 February. He was given unconditional bail.

He pleaded not guilty to a charge of intentionally and recklessly disturbing an endangered species.

Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 offences of disturbing dolphins, porpoises and whales carry a maximum penalty of six months imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine.

Chris Barker is terrierman for the Derwent Hunt.

Hunt Details: Derwent Hunt

Source: BBC News