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Barry Hempel Inquest

Old 4th Jun 2012, 06:48
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Barry Hempel Inquest

CORONERíS COURT NO 4 BRISBANE

I attended many sessions of this inquest last week Ė an inquest into the deaths of Barry Hempel and Ian Lovell in the YAK-52 accidentof 3rd August 2008 off Jumpin Pin, South Stradbroke Island Ė yes, thatís almost 4 years ago! The assembled legal teams were numerous, with coroner, barrister assisting the coroner, CASAís QC, insurer QBE's QC, Ian Lovell's familyís QC and then various legal representations from witnesses including Hempel's Aviation CEO, Mr Hempelís widow and a string of Mr Hempelís doctors and others. I was beginning to think I was at a major trial and not an inquest.

I'm surprised that the media does not appear to befollowing these proceedings, especially considering the numerous previous media reports at the time of the accident and following it. This is, or certainly should be, a major public interest case. As the inquest progressed, many cover ups, incompetencies and blatant lies were exposed.

There can be little doubt that Barry Hempel, in his prime, was ranked among the best pilots in Australia. His knowledge of his aircraft and his flying skills were of a high order. I am sure that many who were trained by him found those skills impressive. Then there was an upset. Evidence has been presented that following ahead injury in 2001, he underwent a major behavioral change. As a result of a hangar door accident he had brain damage and subsequent epileptic events. It appears that following partial recovery he was involved in a string of non-aviation offences.

During this last week, numerous witnesses were called, ranging from Queensland Police representatives, Ian Lovellís partner, eye witnesses to the crash, doctors, the Hempel's CEO, Hempel's Chief Pilot and CASA. It was clear that some witnesses had been primed by their legal representatives, for many were their stock responses of ďI do not recallĒ. The accounts from doctors involved with MrHempel were horrendous. They revealed many instances of malpractice, including alleged loss of records or the non-existence of them.

It was alleged that Mr Hempel had over one hundred violation notices issued by CASA. Itleft one thinking of what you really had to do to be struck off for good. It appears that he had his Commercial Pilotís Licence revoked in March 2008. That being so, on the day of the crash, 31 August 2008, he should not have been taking up fare paying passengers. (Ian Lovell was the third such passenger that day).

Hempel's CEO stated that he wasnít really a true CEO, only acting as one so that Hempel's Aviation could get it's Air Operator's Certificate, (AOC), with CASA. He stated that he knew that CASA had cancelled Mr Hempelís Commercial Pilot's Licence, but believed, because Mr Hempel had told him so, that because he had held a special authority before entitling him to fly the YAK-52 aerobatic warbirds aircraft, that authority was still valid. Even the company's Chief Pilot, on the stand, stated that he had no knowledge of Mr Hempel undertaking commercial flights in the Yak-52.

The court heard scarcely credible accounts of cover-ups, deceits, malpractices and blatant lies which had the coroner, the coroner's QC and most of the public gallery patently shocked. It became clear that there were many who knew of the potential hazard who could have reported the dubious operations, or otherwise alerted others.

CASA should have have charged Barry Hempel and had Hempel's Aviation shut down.

The CEO should have attempted to stop Mr Hempel from flying and failing that should have resigned, requesting the Chief Pilot to do likewise.

The Chief Pilot should have requested Mr Hempel to stop flying. Were that request ignored, his only proper recourse would have been to resign and submit a full report laying out his reasons for this to the Authority.

The Hempel's Aviation company director turned a blind eye.

Mr Hempelís doctors turned a blind eye.

Of Mr Hempel's many Ďmatesí, (apparently including PPRuNe posters following the crash) Ė not one was prepared to blow the whistle on their 'mate'.

Had just one done so, then this accident would in all probability not have occurred.

It seems extraordinary that CASA could have issued over one hundred violation notices yet failed to bar him from flying as pilot in command- and this from a capital city secondary airport, not out in the sticks where renegades may still be found flying and flouting the law.

One can only hope that, as the inquest proceeds this week,eventually something good will come from it all. For instance, if found necessary, that amended legislation will be enacted and effectively policed. (The whole concept of effective policing combined with fair and equitable surveillance would appear to be in need of searching reappraisal at the top and within the ranks of CASA.)

I will not in any way presume to pre-empt the coroner's findings, but will say it is encouraging to see the thoroughness of the inquest's probings. I hope that when they are handed down, the findings, the outcomes and the recommendations can be acted upon sensibly so that this type of accident is less likely or never to recur.

Last edited by Bedderseagle; 7th Jun 2012 at 23:18. Reason: Clarification
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Old 4th Jun 2012, 08:42
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I think if I am absolutely obliged to read about this incident, then I would rather read a slightly more unbiased report. But I don't think it will be posted here for long. You have posted this in totally the wrong place!
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Old 4th Jun 2012, 08:48
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And where should it be placed?
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Old 4th Jun 2012, 08:53
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Well D & G is a good start, but take a look at the definition of Reporting Points above. A small joyride flying club with an unlicensed instructor doesn't fit, does it?
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Old 4th Jun 2012, 09:02
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What makes you say that Bedderseagle's report was biased Notso Fantastic, were you also at the inquest?
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Old 4th Jun 2012, 09:20
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That report is opinionated. If that is the official result of an inquest, I would think it stepped way outside its terms of reference. Inquests are to find the cause and reason of death, not to come up with opinions like that. Or shotgun everyone within range with accusations of blame.

Last edited by Notso Fantastic; 4th Jun 2012 at 09:30.
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Old 4th Jun 2012, 09:52
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Opinionated or not, what is to be learnt from the incident? Early days yet, as the Coroner has not yet made findings.

For those who might not be aware, this is what an inquest under Queensland law is all about (note that bolding is mine for emphasis):

An inquest is a court hearing conducted by the coroner to gather more
information about the cause and circumstances of a death. Coroners can also make recommendations about matters connected with the death, including matters related to public health and safety or the administration of justice. These recommendations are aimed at preventing similar deaths in the future. Recommendations can only be made if an inquest is held.
Edit: Sorry, should have included link to the reference:
Inquests - Queensland Courts

Last edited by Allan L; 4th Jun 2012 at 09:54.
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Old 4th Jun 2012, 10:00
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A coroner has the right to look at anything he or she sees relevant and comment about it. This is the point of the coronial system. Uk gov. Is trying to take away some of these powers to stop the embarrassment of coroners pointing the finger at government agencies.
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Old 4th Jun 2012, 10:16
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Brain damage, Epilepsy and still had a license???
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Old 4th Jun 2012, 10:25
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Inquests are to find the cause and reason of death,
Folks,
I note that Allan L has already picked up the fallacy of this contribution.

In most Coroner's Courts in Australia (a Coroner is usually a District Court Judge or equivalent -- there are no lay Coroners in Australia) the Coroner is not bound by the laws of evidence, and this often results into shining a light into some very dark corners, in a way that would not happen in a criminal trial.

Having an in-depth knowledge of these matters, in my opinion, Bedderseagle's post is quite reasonable, although he is obviously shocked at what has happened, the unfolding of events over a long period of time.

Tootle pip!!

Last edited by LeadSled; 4th Jun 2012 at 10:27.
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Old 4th Jun 2012, 19:55
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BE - One can only hope that, as the inquest proceeds this week, something good might come from it all and legislation adopted, put in place and Ďpolicedí.
Alan_L - These recommendations are aimed at preventing similar deaths in the future. Recommendations can only be made if an inquest is held.
Sen Fawcett - I notice that still is not available now, nearly 10 years after the event. Does it cause you any concern that recommendations that were accepted by the coroner, and put out as a way of preventing a future accident, still have not actually eventuated ?.
Estimates 23/5/12.

Have you noticed if any of the promised legislation which many Coroners relied on for their recommendations, is available for practical use ?.

Have you noticed if any Coroners recommendations have been adopted to produce, in any practical, meaningful way improved safety outcomes ?.

Have you noticed - in real terms, if there has been a pro active approach to reduce the self evident risks or casual factors related to the provided recommendations ?.

Does there remain a potential for the incident to be repeated ?.

History will repeat and prove, yet again that it's all remarkably predictable.

Last edited by Kharon; 4th Jun 2012 at 19:56.
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Old 4th Jun 2012, 21:00
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The numbers of assembled legal teams was notable with Coroner, coroners QC, CASAís QC, insurer QBE QC, Ian Lovell's familyís QC and then various legal representations from witnesses including Hempel CEO, Barry Hempelís widow and a string of Hempelís doctors and others. Phew . . . . I was beginning to think I was at a major trial and not an Inquest.
One has to wonder why there is so much legal interest in what would appear to be (on the surface) a relatively straight forward case....perhaps there is a fear that this could be the firecracker that could go off in your face!

Sounds to me as if the legal 'clean up' crews have been dispatched...perhaps the coroner would do well to talk to Senator Fawcett before passing the findings and recommendations!
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Old 4th Jun 2012, 23:01
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Have you noticed if any Coroners recommendations have been adopted to produce, in any practical, meaningful way improved safety outcomes ?.

Have you noticed - in real terms, if there has been a pro active approach to reduce the self evident risks or casual factors related to the provided recommendations ?.
In the above case maybe not, but the coroner's court is the most effective forum for exposing every aspect of such tragic events; and certainly has proven effective at changing safety culture and regulation in other industries.

I have no idea of the nature of Mr Hempel's injury, but the change in behavior and nature WRT risk-taking seems consistent with frontal lobe injury. This really sounds like something that CASA should have been all over; monitoring the company in the immediate aftermath of his licence revocation and taking necessary enforcement action. If his licence was revoked due medical reasons then it sounds to me like the doctors did exactly as they were supposed to.

That said, allowing a non-licensed pilot to take fare paying passengers on commercial flights (regardless of the pilot's standing in the company and experience) constitutes criminal negligence. I wouldn't be surprised if they face a civil suit when this is all over, regardless of whether or not they are prosecuted criminally. Anyone who exposes passengers, and themselves, to such risk must be completely bloody stupid. Even if you end up having to drive a truck for a living, it's much better than ending up in this situation.
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Old 5th Jun 2012, 06:46
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I have 'undeleted' this thread as I consider it very important and in the public interest to know how Barry Hemple was able to continue flying commercial operations without a license and why no one took any action to stop him.

I am also concerned that CASA may in some way, influence the Coroner's findings.

Bedderseagle may contact me if he believes the thread should be closed or deleted.
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Old 5th Jun 2012, 07:15
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Well done, Tail Wheel.

If the findings from this aren't in the public and aviation interest, I'd like to know what is??

G'day
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Old 5th Jun 2012, 07:34
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Cheers Taily! It is an important case to be openly monitored and commented on as it evolves, keep an eye on those legalcrats spending our hard earned..do we know who the various legal players are?
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Old 5th Jun 2012, 07:42
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Keep the thread going.
The investigation by a coroner is valuable because recommendations can be made into areas where other agencies such as ATSB and Worksafe have a narrow focus.


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Old 5th Jun 2012, 09:19
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Thanks Tailwheel.
The Coroner would appear to be John Hutton.
http://www.courts.qld.gov.au/__data/...1205-FINAL.pdf

Last edited by Worrals in the wilds; 5th Jun 2012 at 09:23.
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Old 5th Jun 2012, 11:17
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A good man died that day. Ian Lovell.

There's a lot of very angry people attached to this case who want justice, now and forever in the future.

The infatuation with an activity should never overtake our ultimate care to each other.

Barry Hempel lied on numerous occasions, his comercial license being cancelled in march 2008 being just one small example.

This should never have been allowed to happen and there are people out there, right now, who know in their souls that they played a part in Ian's untimely death.

No more.
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Old 5th Jun 2012, 12:13
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This really sounds like something that CASA should have been all over; monitoring the company in the immediate aftermath of his licence revocation and taking necessary enforcement action.
I would guess that if nothing untoward appeared on the paperwork, then the CASA had no compunction to intervene. In the past 35 years or so, it seems that the CASA's modus operandi has been "pro-active and pre-emptive". If the paperwork is fine, then there is nothing wrong with the company or the person. (Heavy on sarcasm.)
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