A PILOT who was killed when his plane crashed in Ireland on Sunday has been named locally as former Poole police officer Neil Bowditch.

He was killed alongside seven-year-old Kacper Kacprzak from Dublin when the plane “torpedoed” into the ground in County Offaly after 16 parachutists – including the boy’s father – had jumped from the aircraft.

Mr Bowditch, known as Billy, has been described as an experienced pilot and flight instructor who was a regular at the Irish Parachute Club in Clonbullogue.

Among those paying tribute to the 47-year-old was Dorset Police chief constable James Vaughan who described him as “a gregarious character”.

He said: “We are saddened to hear of the tragic death of former PC Neil Bowditch, known as Billy.

“Billy was a gregarious character with a great many friends and former colleagues in Dorset Police.

“All our thoughts are with his friends and family at this very difficult time.”

A fundraising page set up to support the families of the two victims had raised over €20,000 by the time the Echo went to print.

Writing on the page, Allaiouti Hassan said: “We are heartbroken by the loss of two cherished members of our family at the Irish Parachute Club, little Kacper, son of our dear friend and fellow skydiver Kris, and Billy, a true gentlemen and a thoughtful and great pilot.

“This is a difficult time for us all. I know that our skydiving family and the wider community want to come together and do what we can to support the families affected by this tragic accident.

“I myself have a son the same age as Kacper who loves planes.

“Having met Kacper at the club I know he was such a beautiful boy who would touch anyone’s heart.”

A statement from the parachute club said: “The board of directors, members and friends of the Irish Parachute Club are deeply saddened at the death of the occupants of the aircraft that was operating on behalf of the club.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected.

“We would like to thank the air accident investigation unit and the emergency services who are continuing their investigation at this very difficult time.

“The Irish Parachute Club will remain closed as a mark of respect to the families of the deceased and to allow the investigation into this aircraft accident to continue.”

The aircraft had taken off from Clonbullogue airfield at about 2.25pm. The crash happened a few miles away.

Both bodies were recovered from the wreckage on Sunday night and taken for post-mortem examinations at Midland Regional Hospital in Tullamore.

The wreckage of the aircraft was recovered on Tuesday evening and is being examined by the Irish Air Accident Investigation Unit.