Inquest to open into Gillingham helicopter crash deaths

18:00 11 January 2016

The wreckage of the helicopter in which four people died when it came down in thick fog in a field in Gillingham, near Beccles, Norfolk. Picture: Chris Radburn/PA Wire

The wreckage of the helicopter in which four people died when it came down in thick fog in a field in Gillingham, near Beccles, Norfolk. Picture: Chris Radburn/PA Wire

An inquest is due to open into the deaths of four men killed when a helicopter in which they were travelling crashed during take-off in March 2014.

Businessman Lord Ballyedmond, 70, and his employee Declan Small, 42, from Mayobridge, County Down. died in the incident at Gillingham Hall, Norfolk, along with the 36-year-old pilot Carl Dickerson and 45-year-old co-pilot Lee Hoyle.

The coroner’s inquest is due to begin in Norwich tomorrow.

Lord Ballyedmond was the chairman and founder of the international pharmaceutical company, Norbrook Laboratories Ltd, based in Northern Ireland, and a member of the House of Lords since 2004.

He had also been a senator in the Irish Parliament from 1994 to 2002, and was prominent in the peace and reconciliation process in Northern Ireland.

An air safety report into the crash was published by the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) in October 2015.

The investigation said the take-off Lord Ballyedmond’s estate, Gillingham Hall would not have been allowed in such conditions from a licensed aerodrome.

In a pre-flight conversation between two pilots in the helicopter, one of them said he was not “very happy about lifting out of here”.

The report said the flight crew lacked external visual cues, formal training and procedures to fly in the conditions.

The AgustaWestland AW139 was due to depart at 6.30pm on March 13 but the two passengers were not ready to leave until 7.20pm.

By the time the crew were ready to leave, a “dense fog had set in” which witnesses said cut visibility down to “the order of tens of metres”.

The AAIB examined the contents of the cockpit voice and flight data recorder, which recorded the pilots discussing the conditions.

The helicopter reached an altitude of 82ft and a ground speed of 90 knots before it crashed nose-down into the field.

The report said it hit a line of large hay bales lying across a field, which destroyed the cabin structure.

The inquest will examine the circumstances of the crash, and consider any recommendations.


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Beccles and Bungay Journal visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Beccles and Bungay Journal staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Beccles and Bungay Journal account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Other news

Yesterday, 07:30
Greyfriars Health Centre is set to close in September.

 Picture: James Bass

An MP has defended plans to close a multi-million-pound health centre which opened less than five years ago, amid concern from hospital bosses and patients.

Yesterday, 07:00
Ipswich Crown Court

A teenager who carried out more than 40 cyber attacks on an online gaming site has been ordered to do unpaid work in the community.

Tue, 09:39
Vicky Wood, School secretary with Sarah Querelle, Deputy Headteacher at Ellingham Primary School, which has been targeted by oil thieves.

A member of staff at a village school has described her heartbreak after thieves repeatedly stole oil in tanks used to provide heating for young children.

Mon, 09:48
The Duchess of Cambridge at the Norfolk Showground to launch the East Anglia's Children's Hospices the nook appeal. Cerys Emeerith-Burley, left, 7; presents a posy to the Duchess, with her friend, Caitlyn Chesher-Brazier, 8; both from Queen's Hills Primary School. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The Duchess of Cambridge today sent a message of support to hospices across the UK to mark the start of Children’s Hospice Week.

Most Read

Thursday, March 17, 2016
Paul Daniels and Debbie Magee at Cromer Pier signing autographs. Photo by  Keith J. Deacon MA

Magician Paul Daniels has died after a short battle with a brain tumour, his publicist has confirmed.

Read more
Thursday, April 7, 2011
Bungay football programme dealer Steve Earl.
Photo: Andy Darnell

There have been some highs and lows for Norwich City fans over the past few seasons.

Read more
Thursday, April 17, 2008

THE SCHOOL prom season is fast approaching - but youngsters have been warned they could be arriving in style in unlicensed stretch limosines.

Waveney District Council this week urged local people to avoid using the many unlicensed limousines operating in the area.

Read more
Monday, February 1, 2016
Plaque unveiling to commemorate Elizabeth Jane Howard at her Bungay home. Picture: ANDREW ATTERWILL

A leading novelist, who made a “huge contribution” to a historic Suffolk market town, has been fondly remembered during a special ceremony.

Read more
Bungay Society
Thursday, July 9, 2015
The painting of Florence Carter-Wood titled Portrait of Florence Munnings at Sunset.

An oil painting of Sir Alfred Munnings’ first wife, who committed suicide at the age of 25 after being parted from her secret lover, is up for sale at £185,000 in London.

Read more
United Kingdom

Local Weather

Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 16°C

min temp: 8°C


Show Job Lists

Digital Edition

Read the Beccles and Bungay Journal e-edition today E-edition

Newsletter Sign Up