A flying instructor whose multi-millionaire student died in a helicopter crash has been jailed for six months for lying to get him a pilot’s licence.
Former Army captain Ian King, 53, falsely signed off Brighouse businessman Paul Spencer’s incomplete training records weeks before the tragedy, which also killed Mr Spencer's wife Linda.
While it was impossible to say whether King’s actions caused the crash at Rudding Park resort in Harrogate in 2008, he showed “complete and utter disregard” for the rules and deliberately deceived authorities, a judge at Leeds Crown Court said yesterday.
King, of Clifford, near Wetherby, denied making a false representation with intent to deceive the Civil Aviation Authority but was found guilty by a jury after a week-long trial last month.
Mr Spencer’s flying experience fell below what was required for a licence and some of the hours were from before the date he was licensed to begin his training, the court had heard.
King, who has two previous convictions for Civil Aviation Authority breaches and was suspended from acting as a flying instructor in 2009, signed off falsified logs in a bid to fast-track his licence.
The jury of six men and six women was told by the Crown that phone records, e-mails sent by the businessman, fuel purchases and weather conditions contradicted the official log certified by King.
Jailing King, Judge Tom Bayliss said the former instructor, who is married and has a family, cut corners and was unco-operative throughout the investigation.
“I’m satisfied you’re a proud working man. You have a reputation for honesty and integrity in the community,” Judge Bayliss told the defendant. “But that, I’m afraid, is only part of the story.
“Mr Spencer’s logbook was a work of fiction. The missing exercises are difficult exercises, exercises carried out at the end of the training period.
“Your actions risked putting an inexperienced pilot at the helm of a helicopter.”