Crash airline had been used by drug smuggler The Coventry aftermath: questions raised over radar safety

Drugs with a street value of nearly £170,000 were smuggled into Britain two-and-a-half years ago on a flight operated by Phoenix Aviation, the company whose chartered aircraft crashed near Coventry on Wednesday.

The drugs were found in the possession of Crosby Otobo, a Nigerian pilot who travelled in a Phoenix-operated Boeing 707 aircraft in June 1992. Otobo boarded the Phoenix aircraft in Lagos, Nigeria, intending to travel to Ostend in Belgium.

The aircraft was diverted to Coventry where a Customs officer uncovered a haul of 1.5 kilograms of heroin and half a kilo of cocaine inside Otobo's briefcase. He was charged with two offences of attempting to smuggle class "A" drugs.

No charges were brought against the company or its owners, Christopher Barrett-Jolley and his wife, Maria. Otobo was jailed for eight years in March 1993 with the recomendation that he should be deported when released.

When asked to comment on the case yesterday, Mrs Barrett-Jolley replied: "You worthless piece of shit! Is there no level to which you scum won't stoop to!"

Earlier this year, Mr Barrett-Jolley was taken to court by Lord Guernsey of Packington Hall, Meriden, Warwickshire.

The dispute began in March this year when the Barrett-Jolleys and their son, James, took furnishings with them when they left a 17th-century farmhouse they were renting from Lord Guernsey.

The peer claimed that his former tenant failed to leave behind carpets and curtains as agreed when he moved out of the house where he had lived for nine years.

Mr Barrett-Jolley paid for the fittings at the house on Lord Guernsey's 5,000 acre Packington estate, but Lord Guernsey claimed that Mr Barrett-Jolley had agreed to leave them when he left the house.

In August, a judge ruled that Mr Barrett-Jolley should return the carpets and curtains which were valued by Lord Guernsey at more than £6,000.

The High Court ordered Mr Barrett-Jolley to give back the fittings but they were not returned, and later that month a High Court judge again ruled that they should be returned.

At a second hearing in October, Mr Barrett-Jolley agreed to return them and to pay Lord Guernsey's legal costs, estimated at around £7,000 and £1,500 compensation for items missing at the exchange.

Meanwhile, as air accident investigators continued to examine the wreckage of the Boeing 737 yesterday, it emerged that the pilots, who were killed in Wednesday's crash, were operating in virtually the minimum visibility allowed for a landing using radar, leaving little margin for error.

According to Civil Aviation Authority officials, the aircraft - which was unable to use the more sophisticated instrument landing system that is now the industry norm because it did not have the right radio equipment - would have been allowed to land with a minimum of 1,100 metres forward visibility.

In fact, Coventry Airport reported that visibility at the time of the accident was 1,200 metres.

An experienced Boeing 737 pilot who has worked for Air Algerie said that he was amazed that the aircraft was allowed to use the airport without the proper ILS equipment.

He said: "Approaches using surveillance radar are much more difficult.

"Obviously, the pilots have to fly the plane themselves rather than using the autopilot and these guys, who had already done a night flight to Amsterdam, would have been exhausted."

Most modern aircraft now use ILS, which allows blind landings in foggy conditions by using different radio signals to line the aircraft up laterally and along a three-degree descent path - the aircraft has a height of 300 feet for every mile from the airport.

Some pilots suggest that aircraft using ILS should be banned, but the CAA has a policy of not imposing safety rules in Britain which are onerous than the world norms as this would restrict the number of aircraft to enter British airspace.

Yesterday, as investigators continued their task of trying to identify the cause of Wednesday's crash close to the Willenhall estate in Coventry, the bodies of the five victims were removed from the wreckage.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Life and Style
food + drink
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas