Whole family wiped out in Sydney plane crash

famillTHE millionaire killed with his whole family when their seaplane plunged into a Sydney river on New Year’s Eve was a “loving man” who lost his first wife to cancer just three years ago.

Richard Cousins, 58, died alongside new fiancee Emma Bowden, her 11-year-old daughter Heather and his sons, Ed, 23, and William, 25, when the flight crashed during a “fly-dine” sightseeing trip.

The family, who lived in south London, had been on a once-in-a-lifetime holiday to Australia to join crowds at the Ashes and celebrate New Year’s when the single-engine craft, piloted by Gareth Morgan, 44, was buried in several feet of water in the Hawkesbury River.

The tragedy comes just three years after Mr Cousins, who was going to retire in March from his CEO role, lost his first wife Caroline to cancer, reports The Sun.

After being diagnosed just six weeks before her death, the 55-year-old encouraged her husband to “find somebody else” — and he later set up home with OK! magazine art director Emma and her daughter Heather.

Caroline’s brother Ian Thorpe said his sister had been happily married to Mr Cousins to the day she died, saying: “Richard was great to be with but there was always that toughness about the man.

“He always knew where he was going and he achieved it, and for that I am very proud of him.

“He was always very loving. He made my sister very happy.

“I am extremely proud of him to have had a fantastic relationship with my sister and to have made her so happy until the day she died.”


Caroline met Richard while studying to become an English teacher at Sheffield University, with the couple going on to have two boys together.

Ian described his nephews, whose lives were also claimed in the crash, as “wonderful fellas” who were “fabulous, well-mannered and brought up properly”.

The family has since been devastated again by the latest tragedy, with authorities now trying to find out just what went wrong on yesterday’s seaplane tour.

Richard and his new fiancee Emma had been organising to wed in June this year, having travelled to Australia for a summer holiday.

Neighbour of the family Lata Maisuria said: “They were happy-go-lucky people just like us.

“It was a holiday, you’re expecting them to come back, you’re not expecting them to be brought back in this way.”

Emma was remembered as being “quite regal and very serene”, adding that she was the “Grace Kelly” of the office.

Former OK! editor-in-chief Lisa Byrne said: “My first impressions of her were that she was lovely — a very kind person.

“She was such a wonderful, calming influence in the office, and I never heard her grumble.

“Her absolute main priority was her daughter Heather.”

Kirsty Taylor, the magazine’s editor, added: “Emma was a popular and longstanding member of staff at OK! magazine and she will be greatly missed by us all.”


Richard Cousins, 58, was the chief executive of FTSE 100 company The Compass Group, with his family having been celebrating the New Year with the plane trip, which has been hugely popular with the rich and famous — including Pippa Middleton and husband James on their honeymoon.

Paul Walsh, Compass Group chairman, paid tribute to the successful business and family man, saying: “It has been a great privilege to know Richard personally and to work with him for the last few years.

“Richard was known and respected for his great humanity and a no-nonsense style that transformed Compass into one of Britain’s leading companies.”

Mr Cousins had been listed on the 100 Harvard Business Review’s Best Performing CEOs in the World, named number 11. He had just announced his retirement, due to stand down as chief executive of Compass in March.

Richard’s son William was head of press for Open Britain. Chairman Roland Rudd said that Mr Cousins was an “extraordinary young man” who would be “missed beyond words”.


Pilot Gareth Morgan has also been remembered as a “quiet, humble man”, with a tribute paid on a social media page saying: “Gareth was doing what he loved when he was called home.”

Sydney Seaplanes said that the pilot was experienced, having flown more than 10,000 hours in the air, including 9000 hours in a seaplane.

A shocked witness said how he watched in horror as a plane nosedived into a river, just 500m from the craft as it flew towards him.

Myles Baptiste said: “It made a tight right-hand turn and as it actually turned around, the wings dipped and it nosedived into the water.”

Witness Todd Sellars also said he had jumped off a houseboat just 100m from the crash, desperately trying to open the door of the aircraft before it crashed.

Police divers recovered six bodies from the wreckage, with the aircraft that had sunk to 13m underwater after the crash to be refloated so that investigators can begin to examine it.

The group paid $530 each to fly from Rose Bay in Sydney Harbour to the Cottage Point Inn near Cowan for a three-course lunch.

The plane picked them up after the meal and was due to take in views of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House on its route home.


Operator Sydney Seaplanes grounded all its aircraft yesterday as an investigation ­was launched.

Boss Aaron Shaw paid tribute to pilot Mr Morgan, saying: “He was a lovely guy.

“We are all absolutely devastated at his loss. Ringing his parents today was the one of the worst calls I’ve had to make in my life.

“We just want to get to the bottom of this as quickly as we can. We are focusing on helping our staff and the relevant authorities.”

Sydney Seaplanes, which has operated since 2005, has suspended all operations until further notice.

The firm bills itself as “the only way to discover Sydney”.

It could take most of this week to recover the wreckage of the seaplane, police say.