Brighouse couple helicopter crash flying instructor found guilty of lying to help pilot obtain licence

2 january 2013.'Flying instructor Ian King leaves Leeds Crown Court where he faces charges of falsifying documents in relation to a pilot's licence.
2 january 2013.'Flying instructor Ian King leaves Leeds Crown Court where he faces charges of falsifying documents in relation to a pilot's licence.

A flight instructor has been been warned that he faces jail after he was found guilty of lying to the CAA to help a millionaire businessman get his private pilot’s licence.

Wealthy Yorkshireman Paul Spencer, the boss of Country Baskets, and his wife Linda, both from Brighouse, died when their £250,000 Westland Gazelle helicopter crashed in Rudding Park, Harrogate, on January 26, 2008 - just weeks after his licence was issued on December 21.

A jury at Leeds Crown Court convicted instructor Ian King, 53, of making a false statement to the Civil Aviation Authority with intent to deceive.

The jury had been told that Mr Spencer obtained his licence after King falsely certified to the authority that his student had complied with all the training requirements and flown the required amount of hours.

Judge Tom Bayliss, of Wetherby, North Yorkshire, said: “This is, in my judgement, a serious matter. It involves a breach of trust that was placed in you by the Civil Aviation Authority and shows a disregard on your part for the safety requirements imposed by the Civil Aviation Authority.”

Adjourning the case until next month for sentencing, he added: “You are to be under no illusion in adjourning this case today for pre-sentence reports that this case is to be dealt with in any other way than custody.

“But I would be assisted by knowing more about you and your personal circumstances when I come to sentence.”

The court was also told that King has two previous Civil Aviation Authority convictions and has been banned from being an instructor since 2009.

Mr Goudie told the jury phone records, emails sent by inexperienced helicopter pilot Mr Spencer, of Brighouse, West Yorks., fuel purchases and weather conditions would support the unofficial record rather than the documentation certified by King.

Mr Spencer, 43, and his wife, 59, ran Country Baskets, a business which sold dried flowers, were regular visitors to the Harrogate hotel.

Mr King, a former Army captain, was granted bail until his sentencing on February 4.