Son of one of four men killed in Gillingham helicopter crash to give evidence at inquest

Gillingham helicopter crash. Photo credit: Chris Radburn/PA Wire

Gillingham helicopter crash. Photo credit: Chris Radburn/PA Wire - Credit: PA

The son of one of four men killed in a helicopter crash near Beccles is set to give evidence at his father's inquest next year.

Lord Ballyedmond.

Lord Ballyedmond. - Credit: PA

Edward Haughey was the last person to speak to his father Lord Ballyedmond in telephone conversations on the day of his death, a pre-inquest review heard yesterday.

Tory peer Lord Ballyedmond, 70, had been travelling with 42-year-old Declan Small, a site foreman for his company, from Mayobridge in Co Down and pilots Carl Dickerson, 36, from Thornton, Lancashire, and Lee Hoyle, 45, a father-of-two from Salford.

The AgustaWestland AW139 began its take off from Gillingham Hall in dense fog, but crashed on March 13, 2014.

A report published by the Air Accident Investigation Branch last month revealed one of the pilots had concerns about taking off in the fog.

Senior coroner for Norfolk Jacqueline Lake yesterday heard details of witnesses and evidence to go before a four-day jury inquest listed from January 12, 2016.

At the hearing, legal representatives for the families of the deceased requested that a two-hour recording of conversation between the two pilots was released, as it may give details of 'weather, timings and urgency'.

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Tim Atkinson, an inspector for the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB), said he could not confirm whether the AAIB still had this recording, and if it did then a High Court order would be required for its release.

He added that inspectors had taken photos of the cockpit of a similar helicopter owned by a 'high profile individual' as part of the investigation, but this party co-operated on condition of anonymity and release of the photos would make it 'apparent' who the individual was.

He explained that the remit of the AAIB investigation was strictly to prevent the recurrence of an accident, and all relevant information to this purpose was in the already-published report.

The hearing was told that the two pilots were civilian pilots not military, and that military pilots received extra training for take-off in poor visibility - using only the flight instruments.

A request was made for a military flight instructor to explain this further at the full inquest hearing in January.