No defects found in peer crash helicopter

Lord Ballyedmond
Lord Ballyedmond

No mechanical defects were found on a helicopter which crashed killing Tory peer and multi-millionaire Lord Ballyedmond and three others, an inquest has heard.

Lord Ballyedmond, also known as Dr Edward Haughey, was killed when the Agusta Westland AW139 came down shortly after take-off near the estate he owned in Gillingham, Norfolk, on March 13, 2014.

Dr Haughey’s foreman, Declan Small, 42, of Mayobridge, Co Down, Northern Ireland; pilot Captain Carl Dickerson, 36, of Thornton, Lancashire; and co-pilot Captain Lee Hoyle, 45, of Macclesfield, Cheshire, also died.

An inquest in Norwich, which is expected to conclude today, heard evidence from the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) yesterday.

Senior investigator Mark Jarvis, who inspected the wreckage, said there was no evidence that the helicopter was damaged before the crash.

“The helicopter was behaving normally and had no identifiable defects which would have affected the flight,” he added.

Earlier the inquest was shown mobile phone footage of the helicopter taking off in thick fog.

The person filming is heard remarking: “They’re taking off blind.”

Flight Lieutenant Ian Smith, an on-call RAF search and rescue pilot at Wattisham airfield, Suffolk, said that he was sent to the scene of the crash.

But he added the fog was so thick that, even with military equipment, he could not land.

Dr Haughey, 70, who lived at Ballyedmond Castle in Co Down, Northern Ireland, was considered to be one of Ireland’s richest men, with estimated wealth in excess of £800 million.