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Ex-Dereham woman in plane crash tragedy

PUBLISHED: 14:48 11 February 2009 | UPDATED: 15:01 07 July 2010

Dawn Rollins and Colin Smith.

Dawn Rollins and Colin Smith.

A FORMER Dereham woman and her husband were killed when the light aircraft they were travelling in stalled and nose-dived into thick forest in Malawi, an inquest heard.

A FORMER Dereham woman and her husband were killed when the light aircraft they were travelling in stalled and nose-dived into thick forest in Malawi, an inquest heard.

Dawn Rollins, who was brought up in the town, and her husband Colin Smith were among five British tourists killed with the plane's Canadian pilot in June 2007.

But the inquest in Norwich heard the exact cause of the crash remained a mystery due to a “less than sufficient” investigation by the Malawian authorities.

Ms Rollins and Mr Smith, both 45 and chartered accountants, were on a two-week cycle touring holiday in the African country.

During a rest day, they took a pleasure flight on board a Cessna 206 over the Nyika Plateau, flown by Christian Montieth, 43, of Ottawa.

A search was launched after the aircraft failed to return from the flight, scheduled for between 30 and 45 minutes. Its wreckage was discovered the following day in thick forest in the Lura Valley, four hours' walk from the nearest road.

Greater Norfolk coroner William Armstrong said the pilot and five passengers had died instantly of multiple injuries.

“There's insufficient evidence available to enable a reliable conclusion to be drawn as to the cause or causes of the crash,” he said.

“There's no evidence before this inquest that anyone was to blame but there's evidence that the investigation into these deaths was less than sufficient.”

Ms Rollins was a pupil at Dereham Infant and Junior Schools, Dereham High School for Girls and Dereham Sixth Form.

When she was about 15 she began playing the cornet for the Dereham Band and in 2001 she became the band's chairman.

After graduating from Hull University she met Mr Smith, from Salisbury, in the early 1980s at a seminar in Newcastle.

Ms Rollins and Mr Smith, who lived in Brundall, were together for about 20 years before they decided to get married in April 2004 at the Ice Chapel in Sweden.

Ms Rollins worked as a senior manager at the Norwich office of chartered accountants Lovewell Blake and Mr Smith worked for Price

WaterhouseCoopers in Norwich.

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