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Look Out For This Crook...please!

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Attention all operators:

Keep an eye out for this guy and spread the word. Apparently he arrived in Canada last week.



Crowe pilot on the run

December 14, 2003



AN unlicensed helicopter pilot convinced one of Australia's biggest Hollywood stars to hire him to fly between Sydney and his NSW north coast farm.

Russell Crowe employed Paul James Bennett several times to fly him between Sydney and his 240ha property at Nana Glen, near Coffs Harbour, without knowing Bennett was not licensed for such charter flights.


Bennett is now on the run, facing six fraud charges after allegedly exaggerating his association with Crowe to secure loans and credit cards.


Bennett lodged three loan applications for up to $100,000 while claiming to be Crowe's personal pilot employed on an annual salary of $120,000.


In a statement to police, Crowe said he met Bennett after he landed unannounced in a helicopter on his farm about three years ago.


But the relationship soured after Bennett was blamed for turning a Crowe Christmas party into a media circus with rumours that he planned to wed movie star Meg Ryan.


Bennett also used a photograph of him and Crowe in a helicopter cabin, published in a Sydney newspaper, as a virtual calling card in his business dealings.


Bennett vanished last month, just before he was due to face the fraud counts and a blackmail charge.


District Court Judge Ken Taylor ordered Bennett's immediate arrest, and police yesterday issued a photo in a bid to track him down.


Bennett, also known as Paul Lochead, falsely told two helicopter firms he was licensed to carry out charter work, such as flying Crowe around NSW, the court heard. He was later charged with blackmailing a woman he met through a dating service, forcing her to provide cash for his bail on the fraud charges.


In a separate investigation, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) has moved to cancel Bennett's flying licence because of irregularities over his helicopter credentials.


Bennett, 40, and his girlfriend, Simone, were last seen renting a unit near Hornsby.


A local court magistrate was told Bennett would defend all the charges, but a District Court judge later heard he intended to contest only the fraudulent licence charges.


CASA is waiting for police to find Bennett so a "show cause" licence revocation move can continue.


The Sunday Telegraph

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