Captain’s ‘secret sex sessions’ with lover before cruise ship tragedy
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Captain Francesco Schettino had it all.
The 52-year-old was blessed with Italian good looks, a wife, daughter, and was in charge of the gleaming £370 million Costa Concordia cruise ship.
He also had a beautiful 26-year-old Moldovian girlfriend to keep him company in his cabin for secret late night sex sessions. What could possibly go wrong?
The answer? Everything.
Soon Schettino would be condemned as a coward and jailed for manslaughter after the death of 32 people when his ship partly sank on January 13 2012.
Dancer Domnica Cemortan met Schettino in December 2011 when she took a job as an onboard guide and a translator for Russian passengers.
When she met the captain, the attraction was instantaneous. He was soon bombarding her with calls and emails.
The Mirror reports that kisses in his office soon led to her sneaking into his cabin in the middle of the night for secret sex romps hours before he was due on duty.
The following month she was invited by him onboard as a non-paying customer, and what better way to impress her than inviting her to the bridge when the ship deviated from its route to sail close to shore?
On previous occasions, Schettino had carried out 'sail past salutes' of the island of Giglio, where a number of crew members were from.
On January 13, 2012, he decided to do it again, in darkness. He wasn't even wearing his glasses and had to ask other officers to check their position on the radar.
The navigation warning system was turned off and soon the ship was 300 metres from shore, rather than the five miles it should have been. Things went pear shaped. Fast.
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With his 'blonde siren' nearby, Schettino suddenly noticed waves breaking on rocks ahead. Ordering a hard turn, it was too late.
The rocks gouged a 70-metre tear in the side of the ship, with water soon flooding the engine room. The ship began to capsize.
And things were about to get even worse.
It took an hour for rescue services onshore to be properly informed a disaster was taking place. The ship's alarm was not immediately sounded and there was a delay, and then chaos, trying to lower the lifeboats. Passengers were soon jumping off the ship to try and swim to shore
Surely this was the time for swarthy Schettino to step up and make sure everyone was saved? After all, captains are usually the last people off sinking ships.
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No, Schettino later told Italian courts he slipped, fell into a lifeboat, couldn't get out and was helpless as it blew him to shore.
In a famous recorded call, a coastguard official can be heard screaming at Schettino to “get the f*** back on board, you di****d."
He never did.
As water flooded into the massive ship, Domnica managed to get into a lifeboat but later told reporters she almost died when the ship started to come down on top of it "like something out of a disaster movie."
In total, of the 3,229 passengers and 1,023 crew, 32 people died.
An investigation soon started. Domnica initially denied they were having an affair.
However, investigators later found her lingerie in his cabin and during his trial she was warned she could be jailed if she lied.
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She finally admitted the truth, later saying: "I was on the bridge because I was in love with the captain. I found him charming and fascinating. I loved him."
She also later told the Sun: "I'm talked about as an 'easy girl', the 'blonde slut' who distracted the captain and caused the crash. It's so wrong. I'm not some little tart."
Schettino was taken to court for manslaughter. His defence team argued other people, including the helmsman and the Coastguard were also to blame for the loss of life. He was jailed for 16 years. where he remains today.
As well as the lives lost, the disaster was a financial one too, reportedly costing the ship's owners £15billion.
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