Property developer charged with endangering safety by hanging off helicopter

Property developer charged with endangering safety by hanging off helicopter



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A property developer is facing criminal charges after allegedly hanging onto a helicopter’s skid bar as it took off outside his £1.2 million home. 

Houshang Jafari, 58, was outside his home, Dower House in Stoke Park, last year when a Jet Ranger chopper landed outside after hitting a tree.

Appearing in Bristol Crown Court, Mr Jafari told the jury that he approached the aircraft because he thought the pilot was in trouble.
 
However, he has been accused of endangering the safety of an aircraft after witnesses say they saw him kicking the helicopter and attempting to hang onto the skid bar as it took off.
 
The 22 stone businessman denies the allegations and claims that he didn’t touch the machine and that if he appeared angry it was because he has high blood pressure. 
 
According to the court report made by the Bristol Evening Post, he said: “When I approached the helicopter I had four things in my mind. First, a lot of police helicopters go around that area on a Saturday night, I thought something might have happened in the field and wondered if we could help.
 
“I thought maybe the pilot had got into trouble or something was wrong with the helicopter.
 
“And lastly I thought Barratt Homes directors could have come to visit, because there was a development across the road.”
 
It is alleged that Mr Jafari had been feeding his dogs chicken bones from a plastic bag and that he threw the bag’s contents at the helicopter in a fit of rage.
 
However, refuting the claims, Mr Jafari, said: “Usually I speak with my hands. It's not that I am angry, this is part of me. I was trying to communicate.
 
“I was asking: 'What is going on? Do you need help? It was windy. I had the bag in my fingers, the wind has taken it because it wasn't a heavy bag.
 
“The pilot signaled to me to come and talk to him.”
 
He then added: "I walked to the side of (the helicopter). I made no contact with it at all. The rotor blades are really going fast, there was a lot of wind. I took a full step back, lifted onto my tip-toes and I lifted both my hands up. I said, 'Where the hell are you going?'
 
"I made no contact with it in any way. I am a fat man, my foot doesn't come up – how can I kick it?"
 
Mr Jafari, who owns a third of the green area where the helicopter landed, claims the witness statements made by his neighbours are false and that they are conspiring against him because he is disliked in the community.
 
He told the jury that other residents had been forced to pay £50,000 in service charges for his property, after a judge settled a civil dispute in his favour.
 
However the aircraft’s passenger, Simon Clarke said that he was terrified and that Mr Jafari approached the machine with gritted teeth and his fists clenched.
 
Claiming he feared for his life, he said: "He kicked out at the helicopter, at the nose, and he kicked out twice. He started shouting and walked round to the pilot's side door. Everyone was fearing what would happen next. My girlfriend was screaming 'Take off, take off!' The helicopter twisted to the right quite violently. That's when I really did fear for my life."
 
It is unclear why exactly the helicopter landed on the green. Expert witness Keith Thomas, senior licensing inspector for the Civil Aviation Authority said: “Throwing a plastic bag at an aircraft is extremely dangerous. It will not only alarm the pilot, but could cause catastrophic damage to the helicopter.
 
“It's unlikely a kick would do much damage. The risk of holding onto the kid bar is severe. It would cause a change in the control of the helicopter. The right skid would go down, which the pilot wouldn't expect. The helicopter could be damaged, people inside could be severely or even fatally injured, and someone on the ground would be injured or killed.”
 
The case continues.
 

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