A coroner decided that eleven people were killed illegally when a Hawker Hunter plane crashed on a road during a flight demonstration at the Shoreham airshow in West Sussex in 2015.
Seven years after the event, senior coroner Penelope Schofield said that 11 lives had been “cruelly lost” and that the pilot should have stopped a move.
At County Hall North in Horsham, West Sussex, she gave her narrative verdict. “It has taken you seven years to get the answers you wanted,” she said. It was hard to get here. I hope this gives you a chance to be heard.”
She said that her verdict of unlawful killing did not “take away from the fact” that the pilot, Andrew Hill, had been found not guilty by a criminal court. In March 2019, Hill was found not guilty of 11 counts of manslaughter by gross negligence.
He says that he had “cognitive impairment” at the controls because of hypoxia, which he thinks was caused by G-force, and that he doesn’t remember the crash. On August 22, 2015, the plane crashed on the A27 because it couldn’t get out of a loop manoeuvre.
People on the A27 or bystanders outside the observation area were killed. The coroner also said, “This was not a close or hard decision.” “Even skilled pilots on the ground could see that the plane was too low. Aligning the plane with a two-way road in the sky was another mistake.
Anthony Brightwell, 53, from Hove; Daniele Polito, 23, from Goring-by-Sea; Dylan Archer, 42, from Brighton; Jacob Schilt, 23, from Brighton; James Mallinson, 72, from Newick; Mark Reeves, 53, from Seaford; Mark Trussler, 54, from Worthing; Matthew Grimstone, 23, from Brighton; Matthew Jones, 24, from Littlehampton; Maurice Abrahams, 76, from Brighton; and Richard Smith, 26, from
Several families of victims were there. Hill was not called as a witness, even though he had evidence. At the pre-inquest review in September, the coroner wouldn’t say for sure that the person had been killed illegally.
The investigation found that the people who died had “absolutely nothing to do” with it. The pen portraits are “very heartbreaking to listen to,” the coroner said.
Sarah Stewart, a partner at Stewarts and an attorney for several families affected by the disaster, said after the case was over, “The families we represent would like to thank the senior coroner for her thorough investigation. The chief coroner found that the accident at the Shoreham air show on August 22, 2015, could have been avoided.
“The grieving families have been waiting for this for more than seven years, and even though the senior coroner’s decision won’t make them feel better, their voices have been heard.”