Woman sent driving fine to killed SeaWorld helicopter pilot weeks after crash

A woman has admitted to pinning a driving fine on a helicopter pilot who was killed in a horrific crash at Sea World that left three more dead.

Australian woman Stephanie Louise Bennett was caught with her phone while behind the wheel in December and was fined in early January, but shockingly used details in British pilot Ashley Jenkinson's obituary to blame him for the offence.

Ashley was among four people killed when two helicopters collided near Sea World in Brisbane, Australia, on January 2 2023.

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British couple Ron and Diane Hughes, 65 and 57, and Australian mum Vanessa Tadros, 36, also died in the crash.

The crash also left nine more injured, with three people sustaining three critically, when the two choppers collided mid-air and crashed into a sandbar.

Beenleigh Magistrates Court, just outside Brisbane, heard that the 33-year-old was given a A$1,078 (£575) fine for driving with her phone in early January.

She tried getting out of the fine by saying that Ashley, who had only just died and who she did not know, was driving the car.

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Ashley’s grieving partner alerted authorities after receiving the fine notice just weeks after his death.

Bennet, who pleaded guilty to fraud and identity theft on Wednesday (April 26), said she was going through "personal matters" and "financial troubles" at the time, and had tried to undo her actions the next morning.

The BBC reported that she tried to disguise herself with a scarf as she arrived at court to heckles from onlookers.

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Ms Bennett had previously tried avoiding court instead trying to enter a guilty plea by email, which the magistrate rejected.

In an email to the court, which was read aloud, she apologised "for the turmoil this has caused anyone" and said she was "immensely regretful for my actions".

Following her guilty plea, Bennet will be sentenced on May 19.


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