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Impeding Endeavours to Escape a Shipwreck

Impeding endeavours to escape a shipwreck is an offence under section 32 of the Crimes Act 1900, which carries a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison.

To establish the offence, the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that:
1. You prevented or impeded another person from saving his or her own life
2. That other person was on board, or had quitted, a ship or vessel in distress, or wrecked, stranded or cast on shore, and
3. Your actions were intentional or reckless.

Alternatively, the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that:
1. You prevented or impeded another from saving a third person’s life
2. That third person was on board, or had quitted, a ship or vessel in distress, or wrecked, stranded or cast on shore, and
3. Your actions were intentional or reckless.

A ‘vessel’ is a watercraft of any description used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on water, which includes a ‘ship’.

You were ‘reckless’ if you foresaw the possibility of preventing or impeding the person, but went ahead with your actions regardless.

Defences to the charge include:

1. Self-defence
2. Duress, and
3. Necessity.

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