Bereft family want end to probe

Parents sick of waiting for results of inquiry into their treatment by military after son died in Anzac Day crash

Ben Carson. Photo / NZDF
Ben Carson. Photo / NZDF

The family of a serviceman killed in the Anzac Day air force accident want an end to the overdue inquiry studying their treatment by the military.

Andrew and Pauline Carson have waited 18 months to hear officially what they believe they already know - that the Royal New Zealand Air Force treated them poorly after their son Ben died.

In the wake of the fatal crash which killed three people, including Ben, the Carsons say they were kept from meetings other families were allowed into and overlooked for counselling.

The air force ordered an inquiry by a civilian lawyer into issues raised by the Carsons. The inquiry would also study complaints by the family of survivor Stevin Creeggan. Then defence minister Wayne Mapp mistakenly told media he was dead. The family were later denied information on his condition after an administration error at Wellington Hospital.

The inquiry, by Wellington lawyer Matthew McClelland, began in about April 2011. It was due to be completed in December when the terms of reference were extended by the air force to include input from families of others killed in the crash.

The Herald understands those families were happy with how they were dealt with by the air force. The deadline was extended to July but still was not completed.

Mr Carson said the family had recurring problems with the way they were treated. The most recent was discovering on Anzac Day this year that service medals had been presented to their son posthumously.

He said the couple found the medals had been given to Ben's partner. Mr Carson said the air force did not tell them Ben had been awarded medals.

Chief of Air Force Air Vice-Marshal Peter Stockwell said two sets of medals were given to Ben's partner, with the second set intended to be handed on to his parents.

"The NZ Defence Force was only obliged to provide one set. However, the second set was paid for out of air force non-public funds ... in the interests of Ben's parents as well as Ben's partner both retaining copies of his medals."

Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman said he had been briefed on the reasons for the delay and accepted they were valid.

- NZ Herald

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