An aircraft maintenance company owner and senior engineer were today sentenced to 300 hours' community work each for the manslaughter of a pilot in a helicopter crash.
Father-of-nine Philip Heney was killed when a tail component failed while landing his Robinson R22 helicopter near Murchison, southwest of Nelson, in August 2005.
John Horrell, 56, and Ronald Potts, 60, were found guilty in the High Court at Nelson in March of Mr Heney's manslaughter and causing injury to a passenger.
The crash occurred near Mr Heney's home on the day he collected the helicopter from Skytech Aviation where it had undergone maintenance.
Horrell had owned the company and Potts worked for Skytech as a licensed aircraft maintenance engineer.
Investigators found the Robinson R22 crashed when an incorrectly assembled flange, connecting the tail rotor driveshaft, failed.
The Crown had said at the trial that the defendants failed to ensure work on the helicopter was directly supervised by a licensed aircraft maintenance engineer and inspected twice by qualified engineers.
The R22's tail assembly was put together by unlicensed engineers and only checked by Potts through an inspection aperture "the size of a $2 coin".
Horrell's counsel, Philip Morgan QC, said it was not up to Horrell to tell a licensed engineer when to inspect maintenance work. That was up to the engineer and the person doing the work.
Horrell had a process in place to ensure unlicensed engineers were supervised, but could not be expected to judge if the supervision was adequate.
Potts' counsel Pip Hall said the tragic accident was the result of human error, and not deliberate criminal offending.
At today's sentencing, Horrell was ordered to pay $25,000 and Potts $10,000 in compensation to Mr Heney's family and his hunting partner Hamish Teddy who was injured in the crash.