THE pilot of a light aircraft which crashed in the Wicklow Mountains in October 2008 was the victim of a violent assault on the day before the accident, it has emerged.
However, an official investigation has concluded the attack on Bristol businessman, Shariz Booz, 47, within 24 hours prior to the fatal crash had no bearing on the accident.
A report by the Department of Transport’s Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU) concluded Mr Booz had probably become disorientated by bad weather over the Wicklow Mountains.
It found Mr Booz had turned the aircraft back towards the mountains when close to his destination “for reasons undetermined.”
It also claimed weather conditions forecast for the Wicklow area at the time of the accident were “not conducive to safe flight in a light aircraft”.
Mr Booz, his wife, Margaret O’Kennedy Booz, their 14-year-old son, Aymon and his friend, Charles Froud, all died when the single-engine Piper aircraft crashed into boggy terrain at 1,500ft near the summit of Corriebracks Mountain, Co Wicklow on October 25, 2008.
“It is probable that the pilot lost situational awareness in the final stage of the flight and flew towards high ground in conditions of poor visibility,” the report stated.
It also concluded the crash has probably resulted from the aircraft’s engine stalling close to the ground and that the pilot was unable to regain height.
It also said adequate consideration had not been given to the weather conditions prior to departure from Gloucestershire Airport on a flight bound for a private airfield at Kilrush, Co Kildare.
It emerged Mr Booz was assaulted by five youths in an unprovoked attack on the day before the flight. Avon and Somerset police said Mr Booz was suffering from shock as a result of being struck on the back of his head during the incident.
However, a pathologist’s report said there was no evidence to suggest that Mr Booz had suffered significant injury from the assault which would have had any bearing on his ability to fly the aircraft.
AAIU investigators noted Mr Booz was an experienced pilot who was a regular visitor to Kilrush Airfield and said the nature of the crash was that nobody could have survived the accident.
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