Shoreham airshow pilot acquitted over crash deaths

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Shoreham airshow pilot acquitted over crash deaths

Post by admin » Mon Mar 11, 2019 11:14 am

The pilot of a jet which crashed at the Shoreham airshow killing 11 men has been found not guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence. Andrew Hill’s Hawker Hunter exploded in a fireball on the A27 in Sussex on 22 August 2015. The former RAF pilot (54), denied deliberately beginning a loop maneuver despite flying too low and too slowly. Karim Khalil QC, defending, argued that Hill had been suffering from ‘cognitive impairment’ when the jet crashed.

The Old Bailey jury deliberated for seven hours over three days and there were gasps from the families in the courtroom with many in tears as the verdicts were read out. Judge Mr. Justice Edis told the relatives: “I am enormously impressed and grateful for the dignified way you have all behaved. I can see that you are upset and you are absolutely entitled to be but despite being upset you have behaved in a way which does you great credit.”

On the steps of the court, Mr. Hill read out the names of all 11 victims and said: “A number of people were fatally injured. I am truly sorry for the part I played in their deaths and it is they that I will remember for the rest of my life.”

The former RAF instructor claimed he had blacked out in the air, having experienced ‘cognitive impairment’ brought on by hypoxia possibly due to the effects of G-force. He ‘miraculously escaped’ when the aircraft broke up and he was thrown into a ditch. He suffered head injuries and fractures to his ribs and spine and was placed in an induced coma before being discharged a month later. Mr. Hill told the Old Bailey he had no memory from three days before the crash to when he woke from his coma and had spent the last three years ‘trying to resolve what happened’.

In 2017 a report by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch found the disaster was caused by pilot error after the plane was too slow and too low during the loop maneuver. The organisers of the Shoreham Airshow have denied any responsibility for the crash. Colin Baker, director of the event, said: “I feel pretty satisfied that what we did in the preparation for the airshow and during the airshow was all that could be done. “We very much regret what happened but I really don't think we could have done anything different prior to the accident to avoid the situation.”
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