Homeowners 'furious' after downdraft from Coastguard helicopter taking off from QA Hospital destroys their garden wall

FURIOUS homeowners say ‘questions need to be answered’ after the downdraft from an eight-tonne helicopter taking off from Queen Alexandra Hospital destroyed their garden wall.

Monday, 9th December 2019, 9:41 am
Updated Monday, 9th December 2019, 12:55 pm

Stuart and Cassie Ellins' Arran Close back garden was ‘turned upside-down’ as a Coastguard aircraft stopped in Cosham on Thursday.

Gusts from the eight-tonne AW189’s rotors tore down the 6ft brick pillars and panels of their wall and sent them crashing through their decking.

Now the couple face a bill of thousands of pounds to repair the damage, which also saw their Sky satellite dish dislodged from their roof.

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Stuart Ellins and his wife were furious when the downdraft from a Coastguard helicopter landing at QA destroyed their garden wall, pictured above. It also happened in April, 2017 - causing thousands of pounds worth of damage.

It comes after they were left with similar damage, to the tune of £5,000, when the same helicopter landed at QA Hospital on April 1, 2017.

Mr Ellins, 69, a retired Royal Navy marine engineer, said: ‘When I heard the bang I knew exactly what had happened and, having seen it before, shocked is not the word I would use – I’m furious.

‘Had we been out there we could’ve been knocked off our feet, we could’ve been severely injured or we could’ve been killed.’

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Stuart Ellins amongst the damage caused in his back garden after the downdraft from a Coastguard helicopter destroyed his garden wall and broke his decking. Picture: Habibur Rahman

Cassie, a magistrate and retired academy principal, said the accident sounded ‘like an explosion' going off behind their home.

‘When I saw the damage I felt sick, upset and angry, but I felt relieved because we could’ve been out there,' she said.

‘It's only by good fortune that one of us, one of our grandchildren or one of our dogs haven’t been killed.’

Doomed facilities manager Carillion commissioned a report into QA Hospital’s helipad after the damage wreaked at the Ellins' home in 2017.

Stuart's neighbour, Brian Hooper, who was blown off his feet by the downdraft of the Coastguard helicopter. Picture: Habibur Rahman

It recommended pilots landing at the hospital alter their approach and take-off paths to avoid downdraft and noise ‘if operationally practical’.

Thursday’s accident has sparked a row among Arran Close residents over whether Coastguard pilots are following those instructions.

Retired shipwright and neighbour, Brian Hooper, 72, said he was ‘blown off his feet’ as the helicopter flew ‘really low’ over the Ellins' home.

‘As the helicopter appeared a great big umbrella from Stuart’s neighbour's flew over my head and landed in the middle of the road,' he said.

Stuart Ellins and his wife were furious when the downdraft from a Coastguard helicopter landing at QA destroyed their garden wall, pictured above. It also happened in April, 2017 - causing thousands of pounds worth of damage.

‘When I turned round it lifted me off my feet – I would say two to three feet – and threw me down on my hip. It frightened me to death.’

Mrs Ellins, who moved into her home about 20 years ago, before the helipad was installed, added: ‘I’m just worried unless we make a noise about this they will continue to do what they’re doing and someone will end up dead.

‘This thing is massive and it’s coming in over the roofs of all the houses in the area. Serious questions need to be answered.’

A Coastguard spokesman said: ‘At around 3pm on Thursday, December 5, the HM Coastguard search and rescue helicopter from Lee-on-the-Solent flew to Queen Alexandra Hospital, Portsmouth, assisting the ambulance service in a patient transfer from the Isle of Wight.

‘HM Coastguard have been made aware that some damage was caused to a property, close to Queen Alexandra Hospital, as the helicopter arrived and landed, and we are looking into this incident.’

Arran Close is among the nearest addresses to QA Hospital’s helipad, which sits 65m from the closest residential properties.