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Fatal helicopter crash recordings 'may be lost'

BLACK box recordings of the moments leading up to a helicopter crash which killed four people, including multi-millionaire Lord Ballyedmond, may be lost, an inquest heard.

The 70-year-old Co Down businessman, his foreman, and two pilots died in the crash in Gillingham, Norfolk, on March 13 2014.

Norfolk Coroner Jacqueline Lake asked for more information from audio recordings to be made available to lawyers representing the men who died.

However, the inquest heard inquiries would need to be made to establish if the recordings still exist.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch will now try to find if the material is still available before an application is made to the High Court to allow it to be heard by the lawyers and coroner.

Lord Ballyedmond, one of Northern Ireland's richest people, founded Norbrook Laboratories in Newry, Co Down. He later became a Tory peer.

He died in the crash along with pilots, Capt Carl Dickerson (36) and Capt Lee Hoyle (45), and Lord Ballyedmond's foreman Declan Small (42) from Mayobridge, Co Down.

The helicopter came down in "dense fog" that left visibility down to "tens of metres", an Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) report found.

A full inquest is due to take place in January.

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