Accusations of ‘sloppy’ investigation in helicopter crash trial
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.