A man has been fined €5,500 after he was found guilty of driving a speedboat without a licence when he hit a snorkeller and chopped off his foot in 2009.

He was also disqualified from holding a boat licence for a year.

John Bonello, 35, from Swieqi, was driving a dinghy close to San Blas Bay in Gozo on May 25, 2009 when he struck Louis Bonavia who was snorkelling with his friend Ian Busuttil.

Magistrate Claire Stafrace Zammit heard that when he surfaced, Mr Bonavia saw the dinghy heading towards him and tried to get out of its path by diving again. However, he did not manage and the dinghy hit him, severing his foot from the ankle down.

Mr Bonavia testified that he had not had marker buoys.

He was assisted by the people on the same dinghy who turned around to assist when they heard his screams. A helicopter conveyed him to hospital where he was treated for his injuries.

Mr Bonello told the court that he was trying out the dinghy because he was thinking of buying it.

An Italian, Nicola Gambino, who was the dinghy’s licensed owner, was accompanying him at the time of the incident.

The court heard that Mr Bonello had passed his maritime licence test but the licence was issued two days after the incident. 

Magistrate Stafrace found Mr Bonello guilty of operating the dinghy without a licence or insurance cover and fined him €5,500 and disqualified him from holding a licence for a year.

The court did not order Mr Bonello to pay the costs involved in the magisterial inquiry since the injured snorkeller was snorkelling in open sea without a marker buoy.

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