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Surrey businessman killed in Sydney seaplane crash

Richard Cousins

3:30pm 1st January 2018
(Updated 8:13am 2nd January 2018)

The CEO of a Chertsey-based food company was among five Britons killed when a seaplane crashed near Sydney.

It happened hours before New Year's Eve celebrations (December 31st). 

Richard Cousins, the Chief Executive of Compass Group, based in Surrey, was on board with his 48-year-old fiancee Emma Bowden.

Compass Group is one of the world's largest catering companies, with colleagues paying tribute to his "great humanity".

His two sons, 23-year-old Edward and 25-year-old William, also lost their lives when the plane came down in the Hawkesbury River off Jerusalem Bay.

The fifth British victim was Ms Bowden's daughter Emma, who was 11 years old.

Gareth Morgan, their Australian pilot, was the sixth person to die in the crash - with officials describing the Sydney Seaplanes employee as "experienced".

Mr Cousins, 58, was due to step down from the position in March.

Mr Cousin's brother-in-law - and uncle to his sons - Ian Thorpe, told us:

"I'm really proud of them, I feel thrilled to have known them, they were wonderful people, always lovely to meet and kind...but knowing they are not here is a huge shock.

I'm struggling to believe that they're not with us anymore."

His son William worked for Open Britain, a pro-EU group set up in the aftermath of the Brexit referendum.

"Will was an extraordinary young man who was passionate about what he did; who took deep pride in his work; and came into the office every day with enthusiasm, energy and determination," said the group's chairman, Roland Rudd.

"All of us at Open Britain are devastated by the tragic loss of Will and his family."

Detective Superintendent Mark Hutchings, from New South Wales Police, told reporters the family had been visiting from the UK.

He said: "These people had come over on holiday to one of most beautiful parts of world and for this to happen at a place like this is just tragic."

Mr Hutchings has appealed for any witnesses to come forward, as 10 recreational boats were believed to be in the area at the time.

An investigation into the deadly crash has begun - but although a preliminary report is expected within 30 days, officials have warned it may take up to a year to find out what happened.

Work is continuing to recover the wreckage of the plane, which is submerged in 13m (42ft) of water.

A spokeswoman from the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: "We are providing consular assistance to the families of five British tourists who have sadly died in a seaplane accident near Sydney.

"Our sympathies are with their families and friends at this difficult time."

Sydney Seaplanes, which has flown passengers including Ed Sheeran and Pippa Middleton in the past, has cancelled flights until further notice.

The company said it was "deeply shocked" by the incident, with managing director Aaron Shaw adding: "We wish to pass on our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of the passengers and pilot who were tragically killed."


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