The maritime world was aghast, last night, as details emerged of an incident that took place on Hyde Park Boating Lake earlier in the afternoon, when a man, believed to be an Italian national, threw himself from a rowing boat and swam to safety following a collision with a brown mallard duck, leaving his wife and 5-year-old daughter still on board the stricken craft.
Roberto Mankini, 57, from Bermondsey, South London but originally from Naples, was under house arrest last night, as an enquiry began into his shameful behaviour.
Boathouse attendant, Toby Dell, 49, told newsmen: "I've never seen anything like it in 29 years of shouting through a megaphone!
"I heard a kind of dull thud followed by some loud angry quacking, and turned round to see this geezer diving into the drink, leaving a woman and a little kiddie marooned in the boat.
"I shouted at him through my megaphone to get back on board and be a man, but he just wasn't having any, and carried on swimming.
"I went up to him as he dragged himself onto dry land, and asked him what the hell he was doing, but he just screamed out, "I want my mum!" and legged it off into the distance."
A spokesperson for Westminster City Council who own and run the boating lake said: "This has got absolutely sod-all to do with us.
"Our record is exemplary as far as that lake is concerned. I couldn't tell you how many thousands of punters have enjoyed hours of boating without any dramas whatsoever.
"This bloke was clearly foreign, and a right milky arsehole, by the sounds of it!"
Mr Mankini's solicitor issued a statement last night: "My client is totally innocent of any misconduct whatsoever.
"He has told me that he thought the collision with the duck could have holed the craft, and that he was merely swimming ashore to raise the alarm, but got lost, and ended up at his mum's house instead."
Mankini's wife, who was being cared for by relatives last night, issued a brief statement in which she revealed. "Roberto's a good husband and father, but he's got this wide yellow streak up his back for some reason.
"His grandad dressed up as a girly, and surrendered to the Americans two days before the war broke out you know."
The case continues.