Millionaire pilot had not flown enough to qualify for licence before fatal crash, court told

Mr Spencer and his wife

Mr Spencer and his wife

First published in News

A MILLIONAIRE killed in a helicopter crash with his wife kept an unofficial log book of his training which revealed he had not completed enough hours to qualify for his pilot's licence, a jury heard today (January 2).

Paul Spencer was only able to obtain his licence because his flight instructor, Ian King, falsified the records of his instruction, it was alleged.

But the official log book was exposed as "a lie" when an alternative version was found among the wealthy businessman's papers after he and wife Linda, 59, were killed.

The Westland Gazelle aircraft crashed at the Rudding Park Hotel, near Harrogate, while being flown by Mr Spencer, Leeds Crown Court heard.

After the tragedy in January 2008 - only about a month after 43-year-old Mr Spencer was issued with his private pilot's licence - the Civil Aviation Authority launched an investigation.

According to the official record of his training submitted by Mr King, of Wetherby, North Yorkshire, Mr Spencer had completed more than 51 hours of training, including the required ten hours of solo flight. The minimum required total hours is 40.

But the logbook kept by the businessman, from Brighouse, West Yorkshire, recorded little more than eight-and-a-half hours of solo flight.

Martin Goudie, prosecuting, said: "We are not here to decide why the helicopter crashed or whether Paul Spencer was a good pilot.

"What we are here to look at is the training that took place of Mr Spencer.

"Following the crash, an investigation was carried out into the circumstances surrounding it.

"Mr Spencer's licence had been issued on December 21 2007, a month before the crash, and King was his flying instructor.

"He had certified Mr Spencer had completed the required training and certified the log book as correct.

"As papers were gone through following Mr Spencer's death they found a different set of hours - they weren't the same hours and they didn't amount to the correct hours to complete the training."

Analysis of the businessman's online activity and phone records showed he was making calls and dealing with emails at many times when he was supposed to be in the air.

They also used a Met Office expert to check the weather reports and found certain dates would have been unsuitable for flying, it was claimed.

The helicopter was also out of commission on a number of days when Mr Spencer was supposed to be training, according to the official log submitted to the CAA by Mr King in December 2007.

"That simply was a lie and he knew it was a lie and misled the Civil Aviation Authority to help Mr Spencer get his licence in quick time," the prosecutor added.

Mr King, 53, of Wetherby, denies making false representations to procure a pilot's licence.

The trial was adjourned until Thursday (January 3).

 

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