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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 February 2006, 16:29 GMT
Runway crash death 'accidental'
Mr Paton tried to avoid an RAF Sea King helicopter at the base
A man from London lost control trying to land his plane in Cornwall and died after it crashed, an inquest has ruled.

Banker Hugh Paton, 43, was piloting a Cessna plane when it nose-dived into RAF St Mawgan's runway in June 2001. He died in hospital nine days later.

His family said the plane was caught in a "whirlwind" caused by a helicopter, but an aircraft accident inspector said it would not have caused the crash.

The inquest at Launceston Magistrates' Court ruled his death was an accident.

The evidence brings closure for all of the parties concerned
Squadron Leader Dave Webster, RAF St Mawgan

Mr Paton's wife, Julia, and two daughters, Charlotte and Elizabeth, were also on board the aircraft during the crash on 23 June 2001 but escaped with injuries after being freed by Mr Paton. He died of burns injuries nine days later.

Mrs Paton had earlier told the inquest their plane had been caught in a "whirlwind" caused by the helicopter.

But during the two-week hearing held in Cornwall, senior inspector of aircraft accidents Paul Hannant said that the rotor blades did not cause the crash.

Last year, the Ministry of Defence paid Mr Paton's family, from Highgate, north London, 5m in an out-of-court settlement but always denied liability for the accident.

After the verdict, spokesman for RAF St Mawgan Squadron Leader Dave Webster said he could not comment on the settlement.

Majority verdict

He said: "The MoD greatly regrets the events that led to the death of Mr Paton.

"The evidence brings closure for all of the parties concerned."

The jury of seven women and three men returned a majority verdict of accidental death and said that the aircraft lost control during the landing.

The helicopter's pilot, Flight Lieutenant Peter Binsted, 52, had earlier told the hearing that he was a minimum of 65m (215ft) from the active runway at the airfield.

He said it was a "considerable surprise" to see an aircraft travelling down the centre of the main runway at some speed but "there was no risk of a collision at any stage as there was a height separation between the two aircraft".

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