Jail time avoided in boat fatality

BOSTON - (9/10/02) The father and son whose admitted negligence led to the drowning death of a young Irish woman three years ago will not serve any jail time. Joseph Shore, 65, and Cord Shore, 39, walked out of U.S. District Court in Boston yesterday with three years of probation ahead of them. As the Shores headed back to their respective homes in West Newton and Hyannisport, the family of Catherine Kinsella boarded a plane for Ireland having been denied their request that the Shores spend time in jail.

In June, Joseph and Cord Shore each pleaded guilty to a federal charge of manslaughter, admitting their role in Kinsella's death. The father and son rented the Sea Genie II to operate charter outings. On the night of the fatal sail, Joseph Shore was captain of the boat and Cord Shore was at the helm. A college student who planned to become a teacher, Kinsella, 20, was one of about 50 young people, most between the ages of 19 and 22, who had paid the Shores $35 apiece to board the Sea Genie II for a night of eating, drinking and dancing aboard the vessel as it cruised Hyannis Harbor on July 22, 2001. The Sea Genie II collided with a moored sailboat while anchored a short distance off Hyannisport. In the process, a railing aboard the Sea Genie II was broken. Two passengers briefly stood guard, preventing passengers from going near the broken railing, but left that section of the boat when Cord Shore appeared and assured them all was well. Kinsella fell through the broken railing a few minutes later and drowned.

In the hours and days immediately following her death, several witnesses told police that Cord Shore and other crew members drank and smoked marijuana during the cruise. When informed that someone had fallen overboard, the Shores allegedly ordered the crew to hide evidence of alcohol consumption aboard the ship. Witnesses also told police that Kinsella's screams could be heard as the Sea Genie II pulled away, and that no one aboard the vessel made any effort to throw life preservers or any flotation devices toward her. And, according to court records, at least 15 minutes passed between the time Cord Shore learned someone had gone overboard and his call to the Coast Guard for assistance.

Jail time requested
Yesterday, federal prosecutor Colin Owyang asked that the Shores each receive jail time for their roles in the young woman's death. Attorney Joseph Balliro, who represented the younger Shore, and Richard Egbert, representing the father, suggested probation for their clients.

Judge Rya Zobel frequently interrupted Owyan during his sentencing arguments but remained mum as the defense attorneys spoke.

Kinsella's father, Joseph Kinsella, appeared in court yesterday, accompanied by two daughters and a son, three of his four surviving children. His wife and another son remained in Ireland, too devastated by the death to attend the hearing, he told the judge. Beneath a crop of thick white hair, his face bore a startling resemblance to that of his late daughter. "She was our first-born," he said quietly and slowing, keeping hold on emotions. "We were so proud of her, so very proud of her," he said in a voice barely above a whisper. Catherine Kinsella's brother, also named Joseph, told the court, "Our family is no longer complete ... We struggle individually. We struggle together."

Sorrow acknowledged
In the end, Zobel acknowledged the Kinsella family's sorrow and described the Shores' actions on the fatal night as a "major lapse of judgment." Nonetheless, she rejected the prosecutor's argument and family's pleas that either of the Shores be sent to jail, noting she had received several letters extolling the pair's virtues.

Zobel ordered the father and son to serve three years of probation, beginning with six months of house arrest while wearing electronic monitoring bracelets. Under federal guidelines, the Shores could have been sentenced to up to six months in federal prison. The two will also each have to perform 500 hours of community service and will each pay $10,000 in fines.

Together the Shores also will have to reimburse the Kinsella family $18,690 for expenses incurred as a result of their daughter's death. The Shores must also reimburse an Irish insurance company $21,602 for the costs associated with transporting Kinsella's body to Ireland for burial. Both Shores apologized to the family, looking back briefly to where Catherine Kinsella's father and three siblings sat in the courtroom, but addressing the bulk of their remarks to the judge. The Kinsellas have filed a civil suit against the Wyman Charter Co., owners of the Sea Genie II, in federal court, but no trial is scheduled yet.

(Published: September 10, 2004, CCTimes)