Painstaking investigation delayed removal of victims

March 17, 2014

It was late on Friday evening, more than 24 hours after the helicopter crashed deep in the countryside of rural Norfolk, before the bodies of the four victims were recovered from the scene.

Air accident investigators, hampered by the lingering thick fog, meticulously examined the area – which had been cordoned off and patrolled by police – for clues as to what caused the Agusta Westland AW139 to come down in a field around 7.30pm, just moments after it took off from the nearby stately home, Gillingham Hall, owned by Lord Ballyedmond.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that last year Lord Ballyedmond lodged a claim against the manufacturer of an Agusta Westland helicopter he owned.  He had sought a refund, claiming that the helicopter had a number of problems, including a hole in one of its blades, oil leaks and failures in the communication and navigation systems.  At present, it remains unclear if this was the same helicopter.

A spokesman for Agusta Westland said the company could not comment on possible defects with Lord Ballyedmond’s helicopter, but said it was making checks internally and would support the ongoing investigation in any possible way.

It is expected the probe into what caused the tragedy which claimed the lives of the four men will take considerable time.