Trawler captain William Stringer is charged with causing the death by neglect of John Sullivan, a young crew member who was swept into the sea in extremely stormy conditions. The prosecution allege that Stringer was reckless as to the poor weather and ordered the terrified Sullivan to remain on deck. They also claim he had been drinking alcohol, impairing his judgement. The defence reject the allegations. They argue that Stringer is an immensely capable officer who did the best for his crew. In particular they assert that Stringer ordered Sullivan below deck but he refused to move, leading to his death.