Inquests open into deaths of four men killed in Gillingham helicopter crash

Scene of the Helicopter crash at Gillingham, Norfolk. Picture: Nick Butcher

Scene of the Helicopter crash at Gillingham, Norfolk. Picture: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

The inquests into the deaths of four men killed in a helicopter crash in Gillingham last week was opened and adjourned in Norwich this afternoon.

Coroner Jacqueline Lake said the men had been identified as Captain Carl Dickerson, a pilot, Edward Haughey, also known as Lord Ballyedmond, who owns Gillingham Hall. Captain Lee Hoyle, a pilot, and Declan Small, a joiner by trade, who worked as a site foreman for Lord Ballyedmond's company.

Post mortem examinations revealed all four died of head and chest injuries after the Augusta Westland AW139 helicopter they were travelling in crashed in a field off the A143 Yarmouth Road in Gillingham at about 7.30pm last Thursday, shortly after taking off from Gillingham Hall.

The coroner said it was Lord Ballyedmond's son, James Haughey, who formally identified his father on Monday at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

Lord Ballyedmond, was one of the richest men in Northern Ireland, with an estimated wealth of £650m, and chairman of Norbrook, the largest privately-owned pharmaceutical company in the world.

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The helicopter crashed in heavy fog in a wooded area less than 100 yards from the Gillingham roundabout.

Speaking at the inquest opening at the Norfolk Coroner's Court, Mrs Lake said: 'Mr Dickerson and three other men were on board a helicopter that took off from Gillingham Hall. For reasons that are not quite known, the helicopter crashed shortly after take off.'

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The inquest was adjourned until July 24.

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