Coulthard crash: sabotage claims 'unlikely'

A story in a British Sunday newspaper claiming that the plane crashes involving David Coulthard and jockey Frankie Dettori may have been sabotage has been dismissed as 'extremely unlikely' by a leading aviation expert.

Coulthard crash: sabotage claims 'unlikely'

The Sunday People, quoting a 'senior police source', claimed that detectives have been tipped off by underworld sources that a Far East betting syndicate was behind the accidents.

"It seems astonishing, but our informants insist this has happened and we are investigating," said the source.

Coulthard's Learjet crashed at Lyons in France, on route from Farnborough to Nice. Both pilots were killed in the accident, but Coulthard, his girlfriend and his personal trainer escaped with minor injuries. Former champion jockey Dettori broke an ankle when the light aircraft he was in crashed on take-off at Newmarket racecourse. The pilot, Peter Mackey, was killed in the accident with fellow jockey Ray Cochrane also injured.

However, a leading aviation expert has dismissed the claims as "highly-speculative, to say the least."

"Obviously we must wait for the official findings into the accidents," he said, "but especially in the case of the David Coulthard accident, I find sabotage extremely unlikely. Sabotaging a Learjet so that it took off and flew for several hundred miles before developing problems seems pretty far-fetched. Surely, if these betting syndicates are as ruthless as claimed, placing a bomb onboard with a timer would be far simpler a procedure?

"And how exactly did the syndicate manage to 'nobble' a technician - or technicians? We're talking about convincing somebody to carry out an act of murder here. Firstly, they have to find out who to approach without arousing suspicion; secondly, that person must be amenable to the idea - which is unlikely - and thirdly, he must then be able to carry out his act of sabotage within an extremely sophisticated framework of checks and cross-checks. It's very, very likely that he'd be found out.

"Sadly, just like any other mode of transport, flying can never be 100% safe," he added, "and I would say that both these accidents are just that - tragic accidents, the causes of which will be released in due course."

To further undermine the Sunday People's claims, the Metropolitan Police say they have not received any tip-off and are not mounting an investigation, while the Farnborough-based Air Accidents Investigation Branch believes there is no connection between the two accidents.

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