Family talks of ‘five years of heartache’ after Norfolk man was killed in helicopter crash
12:12 23 April 2014
The brother of a man from Norwich killed in a North Sea helicopter crash spoke of his family’s “five years of heartache” as he renewed calls for the operator to be prosecuted.
Nolan Goble, 34, was among 16 men who died when a Super Puma, operated by Bond Offshore, crashed into the sea off the Aberdeenshire coast on April 1, 2009.
At an inquest in Norwich on Wednesday, coroner Jacqueline Lake recorded a narrative verdict, saying Mr Goble died of multiple injuries following a helicopter crash.
A fatal accident inquiry (FAI) held before Sheriff Principal Derek Pyle earlier this year found that the tragedy might have been avoided if proper maintenance had been carried out, but the Crown Office said the company would not be prosecuted as failings could not be proved beyond reasonable doubt.
An earlier Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) probe found that the aircraft suffered a “catastrophic failure” of its main rotor gearbox.
Outside the inquest, Bob Goble described his younger brother, who was employed by KCA Deutag Drilling Ltd, as an “amazing, fit, young man”.
He added: “They knew there was a problem with the helicopter and decided to fly anyway. In England you just wouldn’t see that kind of disregard for health and safety go unpunished but it seems the law is different in Scotland.
“Nothing has changed and there is nothing to stop this happening again. The families are talking to solicitors about what further we can do, but it feels like no might mean no.
“We have had five years of heartache and to get to this stage and still have nobody accepting responsibility is just postponing the agony.”
Speaking after the findings earlier this year, a spokesman for Bond Offshore said it was committed to improving safety.
It issued a statement saying: “We have always accepted that we made mistakes through honest confusion over telephone calls and emails. Lessons needed to be learned, lessons have been learned and lessons continue to be learned.
“We are absolutely committed to continuing to drive safety improvements across the business, and will study the Sheriff Principal’s recommendations carefully, along with our industry colleagues.”
Solicitor advocate Tom Marshall, who represented relatives at the FAI, called for a full inquiry.
He said: “It’s an appalling state of affairs where 16 men can lose their lives while simply returning from work and yet no one has yet been prosecuted.”
The crash also claimed the lives of the captain and co-pilot, Paul Burnham, 31, from Methlick in Aberdeenshire, and Richard Menzies, 24, from Droitwich Spa in Worcestershire.
Five men from Aberdeen also died: Alex Dallas, 62, James Costello, 24, Stuart Wood, 27, Vernon Elrick, 41, and Brian Barkley, 30; and two workers were from Aberdeenshire: Leslie Taylor, 41, from Kintore, and Warren Mitchell, 38, from Oldmeldrum.
The other victims were Raymond Doyle, 57, from Cumbernauld; David Rae, 63, from Dumfries; Gareth Hughes, 53, from Angus; Nairn Ferrier, 40, from Dundee; James Edwards, 33, from Liverpool and Mihails Zuravskis, 39, from Latvia.
Many of those killed worked for KCA Deutag Drilling and were returning from BP’s Miller platform at the time of the crash.