Ac­cu­sa­tions of ‘sloppy’ investigation in he­li­copter crash trial

Otago Daily Times - - REGIONS - DAISY HUD­SON

AC­CU­SA­TIONS of a ‘‘sloppy’’ investigation, and ques­tions over whether a pilot was on the job while fly­ing, have dom­i­nated clos­ing ar­gu­ments in the trial over a fa­tal 2016 he­li­copter crash near the Lindis Pass.

Judge Ber­nadette Far­nan yes­ter­day heard clos­ing de­fence ar­gu­ments at the Queen­stown District Court re­gard­ing charges against pilot Mur­ray Sar­gin­son.

Sar­gin­son has been on trial for a crash which oc­curred near the Lindis Pass on April 30, 2016, killing his pas­sen­ger and busi­ness part­ner, Liam Ed­wards (32).

Sar­gin­son was fly­ing a Robin­son R22 he­li­copter when it crashed in foggy con­di­tions. Mr Ed­wards died soon af­ter­wards and Sar­gin­son was se­ri­ously in­jured.

Sar­gin­son has been prose­cuted by the Civil Avi­a­tion Au­thor­ity.

He faces four charges un­der the Health and Safety at Work Act and one charge un­der the Civil Avi­a­tion Act.

De­liv­er­ing his clos­ing ar­gu­ments yes­ter­day, de­fence coun­sel Colin With­nall QC ar­gued the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015, which cov­ered four of the five charges, did not ap­ply as Sar­gin­son and Ed­wards were not work­ing dur­ing the flight.

Mr With­nall said the pair were fly­ing as pri­vate in­di­vid­u­als, to the staff quar­ters at Mount Al­gidus Sta­tion.

They would then travel from their to their work­place.

That meant they were not actually work­ing at the time of the crash, he said.

He also crit­i­cised the investigation into the in­ci­dent, call­ing it ‘‘sloppy’’.

‘‘We’re be­ing asked to rely on guesses and spec­u­la­tion.’’

He de­nied claims the he­li­copter was over­loaded, and said Sar­gin­son had not be­haved ir­re­spon­si­bly, given the weather con­di­tions at the time of the crash.

Judge Far­nan re­served her de­ci­sion, which is ex­pected to be de­liv­ered on Fe­bru­ary 14.

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