21 Jun 2013

Families offered payment over Anzac Day crash

10:05 pm on 21 June 2013

The Defence Force has offered the families of three men killed in an Anzac Day helicopter crash $70,000 for emotional harm they suffered.

Flight Lieutenant Hayden Madsen, Flying Officer Daniel Gregory and Corporal Ben Carson died and Sergeant Stevin Creegan was seriously injured when their helicopter crashed in 2010 at Pukerua Bay, en route for a flypast at a dawn ceremony in Wellington.

Lieutenant General Rhys Jones.

Lieutenant General Rhys Jones. Photo: RNZ

In April this year, a disciplinary hearing found the man who led the fatal flight not guilty of negligence.

The Carsons and the Creegans have made no secret of the fact they have a fraught relationship with the Defence Force, which they say has kept them in the dark since the crash.

Ben Carson's father, Andrew Carson, says he doesn't understand why the Defence Force is offering them compensation, because it will be a precedent.

Mr Carson said the families have never asked for compensation, which makes the offer odd and he has not decided whether to accept the money.

He said if the families did accept the money, they would sign away the right to take legal action against the Defence Force and wondered if other families would receive payouts, including those of New Zealand soldiers killed in Afghanistan.

Radio New Zealand understands the Defence Force has offered money to Sergeant Creegan in the hope that he will drop a lawsuit against it.

Sergeant Creegan is still suffering from debilitating injuries and is going to court next week to find out whether he can sue his commanders for health and safety breaches.

On Friday at Parliament, Chief of the Defence Force Lieutenant General Rhys Jones confirmed the $70,000 payment had been offered to the families of the three dead airmen.

He has refused to elaborate further about the amount or purpose of the offer.