More Details On Deadly Norfolk Helicopter Crash

Emma Birchley, East Of England Correspondent
More Details On Deadly Norfolk Helicopter Crash

Four men killed in a helicopter crash in Norfolk died instantly of head and chest injuries, an inquest has heard.

The aircraft came down in a field in Gillingham, near Beccles, at 7.30pm on Thursday, March 13.

It was believed to be foggy when members of the public reported hearing a loud crash.

Opening the inquest in Norwich, senior coroner Jacqueline Lake said: "For reasons which are not yet known, the helicopter crashed shortly after take off and sadly all four men died instantly and were declared dead at the scene."

The AgustaWestland AW139 belonged to Tory peer Lord Ballyedmond and was due to travel from his property, Gillingham Hall, to Northern Ireland, where he had built up huge wealth in veterinary pharmaceuticals.

The others who died were Carl Dickerson, 36, the chief pilot at another of Lord Ballyedmond’s companies, Haughey Air Ltd, co-pilot Lee Hoyle, 45 and Declan Small, 42, a joiner who also worked for the entrepreneur.

The crumpled wreckage of the helicopter and other debris was removed from the site last Sunday.

It emerged after the crash that Haughey Air Ltd had lodged a writ against AgustaWestland in September over concerns about the safety of a helicopter it had supplied, including the aircraft’s in-flight mapping systems.

AgustaWestland has declined to comment at this stage but says it is investigating.

The inquest was adjourned until July 24.