A London man has described the moment he herd a “high-pitched whistling sound” as the body of an aircraft stowaway plummeted into his garden.
The witness told an inquest yesterday, May 27, how he had been on the brink of dozing off on the sunny afternoon in June 2019 when the man fell from the landing gear of a Kenyan Airlines flight as it approached Heathrow Airport.
He heard a whistling noise, he said, shortly followed by a loud “thud” to his side.
He looked to the source of the sound to see a man’s body just a few yards away, with it being “very clear from the injuries to his head” that the individual was already dead.
A second witness, a plane spotter, told the inquest that he had spotted “an unusual” aircraft flying overhead.
He used a phone app to identify it as a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner Kenyan Airlines flight, but when he looked a second time, “something appeared to be falling from it”.
After the horrifying incident, reports MyLondon, police rushed to Heathrow Airport. When officers inspected a recently-arrived flight from Kenya they found a rucksack containing a pair of trainers, a bottle of water, a bottle of fizzy drink, a marker pen, a cloth bag, a loaf of bread and a Kenyan five-shilling coin stashed in its landing gear.
Despite extensive inquiries, the authorities have been unable to determine the identity of the dead man.
An e-fit image of a man police believe to be in his 30s was issued to the public October 2019, but an inquest has been told his family may be reluctant to come forward.
The man’s fingerprints were taken by police and tested against the extensive national database in Kenya, where all adults are required to have their prints taken, but that attempt to identify him also proved unsuccessful.
A police report stated that this is likely to be due to the “extensive immigration population into Kenya from neighbouring countries”, where not all entries are logged.
The contents of the bag and drinks bottles were confirmed to be Kenyan, while the man also had Kenyan bank notes tied to his clothing.
His clothes, while not identifiable, were described as “second hand clothing common in Kenya”, while his trousers “were unusual and very similar to a general cleaner’s trousers”, the court heard.
The plane had flown from Johannesburg, South Africa, to Nairobi on June 29, before stopping overnight ahead of a flight to the UK.
However, officers inspecting CCTV during this period have found it to be of little help due to the distance the aircraft was located from cameras.
It has been established, though, that there was a five-hour period where CCTV “cannot identify what activity has taken place” and that the plane was unguarded during that period.
Assistant Coroner Dr Philip Barlow concluded the inquest with a verdict of “accidental death” after the man most likely climbed into the wheel arch at Nairobi Airport.
He told the court: “I am unable to say whether the man had died or at what stage he had died. It is possible at least he had lost consciousness while flying at altitude in Kenya unacclimatised in a wheel well. That might have been a factor when the wheel doors were opened on this approach to Heathrow.
“More than that would be speculation. Sadly, I cannot say anymore or give anymore information than that. This is a very sad case in so many ways that someone would take this sort of risk in order to stowaway on an aircraft to try and get to the UK. It was obviously a very high risk thing to do.
“I will accept the medical cause of death given by the pathologist, It would be speculation to go any further and to say whether or not the man was unconscious prior to falling from the aircraft. Sadly it has not been possible to identify the man.
“Despite not being able to identify the man I would nevertheless like to offer my condolences to his family, wherever they might be, on such a sad and tragic loss of life.”
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