Fake pilot avoids jail after aircraft parts thefts

The man who was convicted last March of flying without a licence while pretending to be a flying instructor at North Weald Airfield has admitted stealing aircraft parts. However, despite being on a suspended sentence from the first offences, Wesley Andrew Tierney has avoided prison.

Tierney, aged 26, from Letchworth, Herts stole and hid an estimated £10,000-worth of items. He pleaded guilty to three counts of theft at Chelmsford Crown Court on 5 October. He was sentenced to a 16 month prison term, suspended for a year.

This conviction comes after Tierney received an eight-month prison sentence, suspended for 14 months, in March after admitting three counts of acting as flight crew of an aircraft without holding an appropriate licence and two counts of forgery with attempt to deceive.


  1. This individual is a ‘Walter Mitty’ of the very worst kind. He should be in jail for what he has done. If I stole a box of matches and got caught I would expect an appropriate level of punishment. This is no deterrent for him or others like him. Scandalous.

  2. What is going on?
    1. Pretended to be a Flight Instructor – so where was the due diligence from the school checking on his logbook / records etc? Faked obviously but surely a couple of simple phonecalls would’ve sorted that?
    2. 10k’s worth of gear? What was he nicking and how the hell did he get access to parts?
    Seriously he could have endangered peoples lives and frankly his reward is a slap on the wrist and a ‘behave yourself for the next 15 months and we’ll say no more about it charge’ – makes the law look like an ass and more importantly brings the whole credibility of learning to fly in the UK look like a shagged out system long overdue an overhaul. Just lucky he didn’t nick a plane and do something worse with it.

    1. I agree completely here Chris.

      Having worked as a CFI the first thing to do is scrutinise the potential candidate very carefully.

      If this was picked up on a CAA audit surely the school would loose their approval, or not?

  3. There must be more to this than is being reported here. If his initial sentence was suspended for 14 months, then having been convicted again, surely this initial sentence is then due to be served.

    The only reason I can think of for this not to be the case is if the theft of the parts happened at the same time as the fake instructor crime and therefore is not deemed to be a subsequent crime, more of a simultaneous crime.

    Even so, as other comments have said – what more does someone have to do these days? The risk needs to be perceived to be more than the benefit – whereas at the moment, the risk is simply a slap on the wrist.

    It would be helpful to have reported the date of the thefts and how these correspond to the original crime.

  4. His behaviour reminds me of the little …… who stole my push bike (I had given him a detention some years previously). The police were not interested. Whoopee goes he and goes on to try and steal a car further down the road from an acquaintance. He was caught red handed, I forget what punishment was given but probably not enough. Let them off first time and they consider it as an invitation to do more and more and …….

  5. As a Police Officer of 21 years (and a PPL) I’m astounded by these sentences (both of them)? Of no previous convictions, I would expect a suspended sentence would perhaps be deemed appropriate, but some form of community service should also be part of the conviction , but to commit and be convicted of further offences, a jail term is necessary.
    Truly worrying
    Truly worrying!

  6. Does not need to be much to rack up £10k in’spare parts’
    If it was avionics, a single Garmin 530 radio unit is going to be about £8k. Drop it in to a leather flight case and walk out.

  7. There is much more to it than has been reported. He was not flying as part of a flying school, he was acting as acting as instructor to those with little flying experience or knowledge, even taking two young children flying. He also pretended to be an examiner, and signed a biannual renewal in a logbook.

    For the CAA crimes, he did receive 140 hours or community service.

    The thefts occurred as he was working part time as a hangar rat helping tidy up in hangars, emptying the bins and waste oil/fuel etc. During this process he had access to the hangars and workshops and would take the opportunity to help himself to parts from stores, which slowly came to light as part of stock control reviews. He was very clever in his methods and it took a long time to work out who was behind it as it was a subtle accumulation of many items that meant it went undetected for some months.

    He was reported for the thefts and it was only then that some other questionable behaviour was checked up on and the flying issue was discovered.

    One of the major problems of data protection is that it becomes very difficult to check up on claims and qualifications if unrelated to the job at hand.

    He knew this which is why he got away with it for so long. What annoys me is that the whole time he was under investigation, he slandered his former colleagues and even stated that the two people involved with finding him out were in trouble with the police and he was completely innocent. Right up to the days of his court appearances he pleaded publicly his innocence, and then quietly admitted his guilt.

    This a dangerously calculating young man, with an incredible ability to lie most convincingly. He knows the industry, but is a criminal and fraudster at heart. He has an interest in vintage and historic aviation and is an embarrassment to the ATC and RAFVR that he claimed to represent

  8. What was his flying history ?

    To have been employed as a flying instructor, would assume the CFI had flown with him/flight checked him. So need to assume safe and competent flyer, even if a cheat and fraudster

    Why did he not have license? Lost due dangerous flying ? Or paperwork issue or medical ?

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