Brighouse couple in helicopter death crash had false licence - court told

Collect photo of millionaire couple Paul (43) and Linda (59) Spencer who died in a helicopter crash at Rudding Park hotel near Harrogate on Saturday aftenoon.
Collect photo of millionaire couple Paul (43) and Linda (59) Spencer who died in a helicopter crash at Rudding Park hotel near Harrogate on Saturday aftenoon.

A flight instructor lied to obtain a private pilot’s licence for a wealthy Yorkshire businesman who within weeks crashed a helicopter killing himself and his wife, a jury heard.

Paul Spencer, the boss of Country Baskets, obtained his licence after Ian King falsely certified to the Civil Aviation Authority that he had complied with all the training requirements, Martin Goudie prosecuting told Leeds Crown Court.

Mr Spencer and his wife Linda died when their Westland Gazelle helicopter crashed in Rudding Park, Harrogate, on January 26, 2008, his licence being issued on December 21 the previous year.

After his death a record of his flying experience was discovered among his papers which was different to the hours recorded in his official flying log submitted for his licence, said Mr Goudie.

King, 53, of Burns Way, Clifford, Wetherby, denies making a false representation with intent to deceive the Civil Aviation Authority.

Mr Goudie told the jury: “We are not here to decide why the helicopter crashed or whether Paul Spencer was a good pilot or not.

“What we are here to look at is the training of Mr Spencer and the key issue, had he done all the correct training in the required manner so that when Mr King certified the documentation to go to the CAA it was correct, that he was telling the truth.”

He said it was the prosecution’s case King knew it was false when he certified in Mr Spencer’s official log book that he had done 51.3 hours of training, the minimum being 45 hours, and that it had included 10 hours solo flying.

“That simply was a lie and he knew it was a lie and misled the CAA to help Mr Spencer get his licence in quick time,” he claimed.

Mr Goudie said an investigation was made after the crash and among Mr Spencer’s papers a personal unofficial flying log was found suggesting he had not flown the required hours and that some of the hours he had flown was before November 19, the date he was licensed to begin his training.

If that record was correct he would also have only done 8.6 solo hours.

He told the jury phone records, emails sent by the businessman, fuel purchases and weather conditions would support the unofficial record rather than the documentation certified by King

The trial continues.