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Former pilot arrested at Gatwick is jailed for being four times over alcohol limit

A former pilot who was more than four times the alcohol limit when he reported for duty has been jailed.

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Julian Monaghan was arrested at Gatwick Airport just minutes before the British Airways Boeing 777 to Mauritius was due to take off on the evening of 18 January.

He was subsequently charged with performing an ancillary activity to an aviation function with 86mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood in his system.

The legal limit is 20mg.

Monaghan, 49, a resident of South Africa, pleaded guilty at Crawley Magistrates’ Court on 6 June and was sentenced at Lewes Crown Court on Tuesday (12 June) to eight months’ imprisonment – this was reduced from 12 months due to his early guilty plea.

Detective Constable Stuart Macpherson, the officer in charge of the case, said:

“Monaghan was reported to us through the diligence and integrity of the aircraft technician who smelt alcohol on his breath and alerted the authorities as appropriate.

“Although he offered mitigating circumstances and was not an operating pilot on the day in question, he was still an active member of the flight deck and could have been called upon at any moment. Therefore his mitigation does not alter the fact that he potentially put the lives of more than 200 people at risk.

“There are no laybys at 30,000ft and has Monaghan been required to take control of the aircraft in the event of an emergency on the flight deck in the early stages of the flight, his judgement and abilities would have been impaired.”

Senior Crown Prosecutor Alice Trodden, from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), said: “The defendant was four times over the prescribed alcohol limit when he reported for duty as first officer for the flight.

“The defendant was arrested just 10 minutes before the flight was due to push back and the potential consequences, had he been required to take control of the plane while impaired in the event of an emergency, cannot be underestimated.

“In the face of the overwhelming evidence put forward by the police and CPS, the defendant pleaded guilty at the first available opportunity.”

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Crawley joins money-saving initiative

Crawley Borough Council has become one of the founding members of the Local Government Mutual, helping to save money every year.

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The mutual aims to save its members money by offering an effective alternative to the conventional insurance products and services available to local authorities.

Any surpluses the mutual generates may be used to reduce the cost of insurance, improve the claims process or returned back to members as income.

The structure of the mutual means the council will not pay insurance premium tax, currently set at 12 per cent, on the vast majority of insurance products.

As well as saving money, the mutual puts councils in control by working together, sharing knowledge of best practice and reducing members’ risk exposure without increased costs.

Leader of the Council, Councillor Peter Lamb, said:

“It’s great to see Crawley Borough Council become a founding member of this initiative. The mutual is another way the council is saving money to put back into services and to reduce the forecasted budget gap.”

As a member, the council can still choose between the mutual and private companies for its insurance. However, the mutual can offer price matching or better cover that is up-to-date with changes in local authorities’ organisational and operational activities.  

The council can insure through the mutual from 1 April 2020.

Find out more about the Local Government Mutual here: www.local.gov.uk/new-local-government-mutual


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