Gatwick drone – Boss of ex-soldier arrested over chaos reveals agony as he's released without charge after 36 hours in custody

Paul Gait, 47, and wife Elaine Kirk, 54, were arrested at their Crawley home on Friday night over the attacks – with Gatwick now offering a £50,000 reward for the real culprit.

But Sussex Police confirmed today they are no longer suspects and said a drone found near Gatwick would be taken away for investigation.

Paul's boss insisted the dad-of-two was innocent as he was at work while the drones were bringing Gatwick to its knees.

Christmas chaos at Gatwick, what we know so far…

  • Elaine Kirk, 54, and model aircraft enthusiast Paul Gait, 47, have been released without charge
  • Gatwick have put up a £50,000 reward to find the real culprit
  • Cops have found a 'damaged drone' close to the airport, which is being investigated
  • The Sun revealed how a cyclist was spotted "frantically" packing two drones into a bag near the airport
  • Gatwick fully re-opened yesterday with 757 flights scheduled after the drones twice caused chaos
  • The Army deployed 'drone killer' tech used in fight against ISIS jihadis to bring down the machines
  • Thousands are set for refunds and compensation after flights cancelled or delayed

John Allard, who runs Allard Double Glazing, claimed he had tried to call cops to clear Paul's name but officers never phoned him back.

He said: "Obviously the police could have handled it better just by asking the who, when and where. The police have handled this absolutely appallingly, they really have."

He explained how window fitter Paul had been working on Wednesday in Kent and was driving John's injured daughter around on Friday.

John said: "I know Paul well, he's worked for me for 17 years and this is going to hit him like a 10-tonne truck. Paul Gait is as harmless as a bloody newborn fly.

"He really is, he's the most inoffensive bloke you'll ever meet.

"Although there was a complete lack of evidence, the police ripped his house apart.

"I know this will mentally destroy him.

"Paul Gait doesn't own a drone. The drone he had he sold back in mid-summer. It was only a silly little one – anyone could have gone and bought in Hamleys.

"Sussex Police have really dropped the ball on this. I have always supported the police and I like to think I always would but in this case I think they have really got it wrong."

Elaine and Paul were held by police for around 36 hours after cops stormed their home in Crawley – just five miles from Gatwick Airport.

Both looked tired as they were escorted into their house by police today – with officers standing guard outside.

Forensic officers spent yesterday combing through their home and vehicles looking for potential evidence.

Sussex Police Detective Chief Superintendent Jason Tingley said: “Both people have fully co-operated with our enquiries and I am satisfied that they are no longer suspects in the drone incidents at Gatwick.

“Our inquiry continues at a pace to locate those responsible for the drone incursions, and we continue to actively follow lines of investigation.

“We ask for the public’s continued support by reporting anything suspicious, contacting us with any information in relation to the drone incidents at Gatwick."

Pals claimed Paul, who reportedly served in Bosnia and Northern Ireland with the Royal Artillery, can't have been behind the attacks that saw 1,000 flights cancelled or diverted.

John's daughter Gemma, who helps run Allard Double Glazing in East Sussex and has a child with Paul, insists he was having a cup of tea with her at the time of the attacks.

The 40-year-old told the Mirror: "He was with me at work the whole time the drones were up. Paul comes to my house every morning – I’ve got a child with him.

"The morning of this going on, he was sitting in my front room having a cup of tea with me – and the rest of the day he was working.

"They need to let him out and catch the right people. Paul wouldn’t do this, no chance.”

It later emerged window fitter Paul posted a video on a Facebook drone community page from his garage asking for technical help to repair his high-spec Trex FBL 600 helicopter.

He had also Liked updates from nearby Hastings Model Flying Club and posted pictures of his model helicopter.

Two years ago, the ex-squaddie reviewed drone company Vifly on Facebook, saying: "The quality of the kits are amazing".

And just 48 hours before Gatwick was brought to a standstill he posted in a forum trying to get a spare part.

Stunned locals yesterday told how cops raided the couple's £590,000 home on a quiet cul-de-sac as they arrested the couple.

Neighbours also revealed how Paul had been spotted with a remote-controlled model helicopter in the area.

One said: "I saw him flying a helicopter, it was remote controlled. That was a few years ago and he recently said to me, 'I've given all that up now'."

Another revealed Paul had a remote-controlled car and a helicopter, adding: "I remember thinking 'look at that big kid with his toys!'"

Cops are now trying to find the true culprit – with Gatwick Airport offering the £50,000 reward through Crimestoppers.

A spokesperson for Sussex Police said: "If you have any information please contact Crimestoppers 100% anonymously on 0800 555 111 or through their anonymous online form at Crimestoppers website.

"Payout on the reward will be made only if the information is given to Crimestoppers first."

The runway at Gatwick reopened yesterday morning but passengers were urged to check their flights before travelling as delays and cancellations entered a fourth day.

The airport had reopened on Friday morning after 33 hours and 760 cancelled flights but planes had to be grounded again following a second drone sighting.

The chaos meant the Army employed "drone killer" tech used in fight against ISIS as the cat and mouse game between the moronic drone pilot and authorities continued.

The £2.6million technology uses a radio frequency jammer to crash drones.

The Israeli-made devices feature four radars covering a six-mile radius.

They were used in the fight against IS in Mosul last year. The Army has bought six for £15.8million.

Frustrated passengers displayed their anger on social media following the latest suspension

Passengers revealed their travel horror stories as they faced further chaos at Gatwick.

Wayne McAffee and his family were due to travel to Belfast via Gatwick on Thursday after 10 days at Disneyland in Orlando.

The 35-year-old said they missed their connecting easyJet flight due to delays.

Mr McAfee said: "I'm sure (the airport and airline) are not enjoying this situation, I don't think it's their fault.

"I'm not saying it's a positive experience but there's no point getting upset. Whoever is doing the drones, I'm angrier at them."

Lena Balbek, 38, a project manager from Kiev who was visiting an agency in London, was stranded after trying to return home.

She said her flight with Ukraine International Airlines was re-scheduled for 7pm on Friday but was pushed back until 10pm after a second drone attack.

Ms Balbek said she paid for a hotel on Thursday night and does not expect to recover the costs.

"I'm disappointed it's been pushed back but we're alive and if they tell us it's okay, then I'll feel safe," she added.

Ana Trinanes feared she may not be able to spend Christmas with family in Spain after her second attempt to fly from Gatwick was placed in jeopardy.

The 49-year-old mother-of-two first arrived at the airport at 6am on Thursday, but her flight was cancelled because of the drone chaos.

Having slept in the airport overnight with fresh flights to eventually take her to family in Galicia booked, she learned her 8.55pm flight would be delayed as she was third-in-line to check in.

The personal assistant told the Press Association: "It's just a small drone against all the police and the army and everyone. It's unbelievable."

It has since emerged that the Christmas chaos is the THIRD time a drone was flown into Gatwick airspace in the last 18 months.

Drone killing tech that's fighting ISIS

  • An elite police and military force is using state of the art drone killing equipment to track down the rogue remote-controlled aircraft.
  • This includes a state-of-the art tracking system used by British troops to liberate Mosul from jihadis.
  • The trackers will be deployed with the drone killing tech to disable the remote-control aircraft.
  • It is understood the system will use 3D radars to search for drones in the area – before identifying them with tracking algorithms.
  • The equipment could also have sensors built in to spot the remote-controlled aircraft visually.
  • Once detected, a jamming transmission will disrupt the drone’s flight – causing a crash landing.
  • However, it appears the authorities have employed a number of systems to detect the drones.
  • Among the technology spotted on Gatwick Airport Police Station was a 'Drone Dome'.
  • The system, costing £15.8million, uses radar and frequency jammers to find and overload a drone.
  • But instead of causing the drone to crash the tech allows it to perform a ‘soft landing’ – meaning the craft can be retrieved undamaged.


Passengers set up temporary beds in camps amid two-hour queues for food and drink at the airport after the first drone caused havoc.

Prime Minister Theresa May gave a statement sympathising with those left stranded.

She told reporters: “Obviously at this time of year this is particularly difficult for people.”

In July, the Government restricted drones to 400ft and banned them from flying within 1km of an airport.

Recreational drones are fitted with GPS “geo-fencing” preventing them from flying near restricted airspace, including airports.

If convicted, the drone grinch could face up to five years in prison.

Can I claim compensation?

  • IF your flight is delayed or cancelled you might be due compensation of up to 600 euros (£542).
  • How much you'll get depends on the length of the journey and the delay in reaching your final destination.
  • You also must be travelling on an EU airline or a flight that departed from an EU airport, and the cause of the disruption has to be the airline's fault.
  • As the problems at Gatwick have been caused by drones, this is outside of the airlines' control, which means you won't be due compensation.
  • But you might be able to get a refund of your flight, a new flight, and food, drink and accomodation at the airport

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