Belfast Telegraph

Monday 29 December 2014

Helicopter warning 'not turned on'

Charles Stisted (right), a friend of the Prince of Wales, was a passenger on a helicopter that crashed in the Mourne Mountains
Charles Stisted (right), a friend of the Prince of Wales, was a passenger on a helicopter that crashed in the Mourne Mountains

A system warning of high ground was not turned on before a helicopter crashed, killing three men - one a friend of the Prince of Wales - an inquest has heard.

The pilot and another passenger also died after the aircraft hit the side of a mist-shrouded mountain in the remote Mournes range in Co Down and scattered body parts across a wide area.

Walkers made the grim discovery in October 2010. A warning system for high ground was not turned on.

The aviation inquiry's report that pilot Anthony Smith was constantly at 1,600 feet were contradicted by locals a short distance from the disaster.

The Prince's friend Charles Stisted, 47, chief executive of the Guards Polo Club at Windsor, was a passenger on the flight returning to Great Britain after attending an exclusive shooting party at an estate in Co Tyrone.

Construction company businessman and fellow polo player Ian Wooldridge, 52, and experienced pilot Anthony Smith, 63, formerly of the RAF and Army with service in Northern Ireland, also died.

Hiker Sean Featherstone told the Belfast inquest of the scene. He said: "It looked like a burned-out car, as I looked around I began to see flesh, parts of bodies on the ground. At that stage I knew there was no chance of survivors, the bodies appeared to be burned."

His friend Gavin Treanor saw a left arm.

"There was a wedding ring attached," he said. "There was a torso and several bits of flesh were lying."

The accident happened after a shooting session at the Baronscourt estate of the Duke of Abercorn on the outskirts of Newtownstewart, 10 miles from Omagh, Co Tyrone.

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