Edward Haughey: Irish businessman dies in helicopter crash
AN Irish businessman is among four people who died in a helicopter crash late last night.
Eddie Haughey, who originally hails from Louth, was better known as Lord Ballyedmond.
A second Irishman, believed to be from Co Down, was also killed in the accident.
The incident occurred yesterday evening close to Mr Haughey's Gillingham estate in Norfolk.
He was Northern Ireland's richest businessman worth an estimated £650m.
He was the province's top industrialist, with his blue chip animal healthcare and pharma group Norbrook.
Norbrook employs 1,500 people in Northern Ireland - and another 1,500 worldwide.
Profits at Norbrook Laboratories Holdings almost doubled to €16m, with sales rising 18pc to €197m in 2012.
The fast-growing company has doubled turnover in the last seven years. This only represents part of Haughey's wealth. There are assets in Africa.
He is a former senator - he was nominated to the Seanad by taoisigh Albert Reynolds and Bertie Ahern.
He later took a seat in the House of Lords in Westminster, where he sat as Lord Ballyedmond.
His assets include a castle in Cumbria, an estate in Rostrevor, a €20m home on London's Belgrave Square and Dublin's Fitzwilliam Square.
Haughey was a major donor to David Cameron's Tory party, having handed over €220,000 in 2012 to its coffers.
He was apparently killed with three other people when a helicopter came down in thick fog in a field in Gillingham, near Beccles, Norfolk, at 7.30pm yesterday.
Emergency services were called and all four people on board were pronounced dead at the scene after it crashed in a field containing a wooded area, Norfolk Police said.
The victims have not yet been formally identified while officers contact their next of kin.
It was reported that the helicopter was flying to Northern Ireland, though police refused to comment on where it had taken off from or what its destination was.
Inspector Louis Provart said: "Emergency services are working together in difficult conditions to secure the scene and carry out an initial investigation into the circumstances.
"Our thoughts are with the family and loved ones of those who have sadly lost their lives this evening."
Emergency services were called by members of the public who heard a loud crash, though Mr Provart would not say whether there was an explosion and refused to speculate on the cause of the crash.
The Air Accidents Investigation Branch has been informed and a team will be sent to investigate the crash, a spokesman said.
Three ambulances, two doctors and one rapid response car attended the scene, along with a police helicopter and fire services.
A spokeswoman for East of England Ambulance Service said: "Sadly, it is believed that four people in the helicopter are believed to have died in the crash. Ambulance resources have now been stood down from the scene. Our thoughts are with the family and friends of those who have lost their lives."
Roland Bronk, owner of The Swan House inn and restaurant in Beccles, said it was "very foggy" in the area. Mr Bronk said he heard customers talk about "a lot of police activity and ambulances".
One Twitter user, @andrew89mufc, said thick fog might have played a part in the crash, adding: "Helicopter crashed very close to my house in Gillingham tonight. I heard it flying over the house.
"I live in Worlingham on Park Drive. My garden backs onto the woodland leading to Gillingham. I heard a helicopter circling the house for about 15 mins at around 7:45. This may have been air ambulance or police searching though."
He added: "Can't see my hand in front of my face. No sign of scene of crash."
Taxi driver Mark Murray, 22, from Beccles, said: "There is a large stately home nearby and you often see helicopters coming and going from there.
"When they have a game shoot the guests often all arrive in separate helicopters. We don't know if that is linked, but that's the only helicopter activity we see in this area."
Helen Roberts, a forecaster at the Met Office, confirmed that large parts of East Anglia had been hit by mist.
She said: "There has certainly been some fog around south Norfolk, and the Norwich area has been in fog.
"There has been widespread mist around East Anglia and low visibility quite widely across East Anglia. Mist means low visibility, and it has been misty quite widely throughout the evening."
Norfolk Police said the crash site will remain cordoned off today while officers continue a forensic examination of the scene. Roads in the area have been closed.
The scene is 45 miles from the spot where four crew members died when a US military helicopter crashed on a training mission in a nature reserve in Cley-next-the-Sea, Norfolk.
In January, a Pave Hawk from RAF Lakenheath was taking part in a low-flying training exercise when it came down.
Residents described hearing a "'heavy and very unusual'' noise from the helicopter seconds before the crash, in which all four US crew members were killed.