A mystery boat owner has been fined and convicted after failing to register his boat for use on the River Thames.

An unmarked boat was discovered moored opposite Reading Marine Services during routine checks in August 2023.

After finding it impossible to find the details of the vessel on the National Licencing System due to it being unmarked, warning notices were affixed to the boat.

These stated that the owner was to notify the environmental agency with personal details, a valid registration and insurance within 28 days.

Following investigations, intelligence found that the boat was called The Wee Lamb and belonged to Michael Toner of Oxford Road, Reading. They found that the vessel was unregistered.

Colin Chiverton, Environment Manager at the Environment Agency said: “Mr Toner operated an unmarked vessel – you can’t do that with a car and the same rules apply with a boat. He had from August to December to make things right, though we received no correspondence at all. We’re delighted with this fine that sends a clear warning to all unregistered boat owners – it’s just not worth the risk.

“If you have an unregistered boat on the Thames, you should know that our enforcement teams are already out patrolling the river, checking for valid registrations.”

In a Reading magistrates court hearing, it was decided that the boat owner was required to pay a total of £1399.04 for costs and compensation.

This came after Toner had skipped the annual £280.04 registration fee, determined by the length and width of the boat.

In an additional Magistrates Court meeting on March 15 - which Michael Toner did not attend – he was convicted of breaching the Environment Agency (Inland Waterways) Order 2010.

He was fined £600 with a victim surcharge of £240. The costs were £270 and the outstanding boat registration fee was £280.04 for 1 January to 31 December 2023.

Similar to excise duty for road vehicles, boat registration fees allow the Environment Agency to manage and maintain more than 600 miles of inland waterways across England, keeping them open and safe for thousands of boaters.