SES and Police divers pictured in April 2014 trying to retrieve the plane that crashed into the Clarence River at Yates Crossing, Ewingar.
SES and Police divers pictured in April 2014 trying to retrieve the plane that crashed into the Clarence River at Yates Crossing, Ewingar. Mireille Merlet-Shaw

Pilot facing maximum seven years over Ewingar crash

UPDATE: JOHN Crumpton faces a maximum of seven years jail over a plane crash at Ewingar in 2014 where he hit powerlines and plunged into the Clarence River which resulted in the death of 11-year-old Kayla Whitten.

Mr Crumpton was charged with manslaughter, operating an aircraft recklessly to endanger the life of a person, operating an aircraft recklessly to endanger a person or property and flying an aircraft below 500 feet.

The charges related to the crash on April 12, where the jury heard Mr Crumpton was flying between 16 and 25 metres above the Clarence River when the crash occurred.

Mr Crumpton was flying his Maule M-5 four-seater plane VH-HOG, carrying then 34-year-old David Whitten and his daughter Kayla.

After a week of evidence from witnesses including Mr Whitten, Detective Sergeant Russell Ewing, Civil Aviation Safety Authority expert, commercial pilot Paul Wayne Baker, and friend of Mr Crumpton's, Lisa Sandstrom the jury retired to deliberate on Monday at 1am.

After almost two days of deliberations, the jury in the trial at Lismore District Court before Judge John North returned at 11.25am today to deliver their verdict.

When the jury foreperson read out a verdict of not guilty on the charge of manslaughter Kayla's mother, who was seated in the public gallery throughout the trial, burst into tears.

Relief at the not guilty verdict was written on the face of Mr Crumpton's wife Leanne.

Then the foreperson read out guilty verdicts on the charges of operating an aircraft recklessly to endanger the life of a person, operating an aircraft recklessly to endanger a person or property.

The charges, brought under Commonwealth legislation, carry maximum penalties of five and two years respectively.

Some supporters of Mr Crumpton who had sat through the trial also started crying with relief when the not guilty verdict was read out.

Mr Crumpton did not react when all three verdicts were read out.

His barrister Tony Bellanto QC then requested an adjournment to give both the Crown and defence time to prepare submissions on sentencing.

Judge North ordered a full pre sentence report to be prepared on Crumpton canvassing all sentencing options on the Commonwealth charges.

He adjourned sentencing until April 28 in the District Court in Sydney.

Mr Crumpton, who was not on bail, remains free until that date.

 

INITIAL: A NOT-GUILTY verdict has been handed down today regarding the trial of a pilot whose plane plunged into the Clarence River killing a young girl.

John Crumpton, 55 received the not-guilty verdict to manslaughter in Lismore Court but was found guilty on two charges of flying dangerously.

Mr Crumpton will appear for sentencing in Sydney District Court in April.

More details as they come to hand.



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