Shoreham Airshow crash pilot Andrew Hill cleared of manslaughter

PUBLISHED: 11:57 08 March 2019 | UPDATED: 11:57 08 March 2019

Andy Hill has been cleared of manslaughter after his Hawker Hunter jet crashed, killing 11 people at the 2015 Shoreham Airshow. Picture: Archant

Andy Hill has been cleared of manslaughter after his Hawker Hunter jet crashed, killing 11 people at the 2015 Shoreham Airshow. Picture: Archant

Archant

Sandon pilot Andrew Hill, whose plane crashed at the 2015 Shoreham Airshow, killing 11 men, has been cleared of manslaughter.

The Hawker Hunter jet crashed onto a busy duel carriageway. Picture: CPSThe Hawker Hunter jet crashed onto a busy duel carriageway. Picture: CPS

Sandon pilot Andy Hill, whose plane crashed at the 2015 Shoreham Airshow, killing 11 men, has been cleared of manslaughter.

Andrew Hill, 54, had been attempting a loop in his Hawker Hunter jet when it crashed on the A27 and exploded into a fireball on August 22.

He was acquitted of manslaughter at the Old Bailey in London today, following a seven-week trial.

Maurice Abrahams, 76; Dylan Archer, 42; Tony Brightwell, 53; Matthew Grimstone, 23; Matt Jones, 24; Graham Mallinson, 72; Daniele Polito, 23; Mark Reeves, 53; Jacob Schilt, 23; Richard Smith, 26; and Mark Trussler, 54, who all lived in Sussex, sadly lost their lives when the 1950s jet crashed onto the duel carriageway.

Andy Hill's Hawker Hunter jet shortly before the crash. Picture: CPSAndy Hill's Hawker Hunter jet shortly before the crash. Picture: CPS

The prosecution said former RAF and British Airways pilot Mr Hill had been flying too low and slow as he attempted the loop, and Tom Kark QC alleged that he had a “cavalier” attitude to safety.

But, Mr Hill claimed he blacked out during the manoeuvre, experiencing cognitive impairment brought on by hypoxia, caused by the effects of G-force.

He dismissed prosecutors’ claims he took risks, saying he was not “cavalier” and took a “very structured, disciplined approach” to display flying.

He told jurors he held back from flights he was not comfortable with and said the “primary aim” of displays was to “avoid risk”, although he conceded that he had limited experience flying the Hawker Hunter.

The Hawker Hunter seconds before the crash. Picture: CPSThe Hawker Hunter seconds before the crash. Picture: CPS

He survived the crash after being ejected from the plane.

He fractured his nose, ribs and part of his lower spine and suffered a collapsed lung and serious bruising among other injuries, being placed in an induced coma before being discharged from hospital a month later.

The 54-year-old had never watched the crash footage and lowered his head when it was playing in court.

Jurors announced their verdict after three days of deliberation, with the victims’ families weeping as the unanimous verdicts were given.

Andy Hill performing a loop in the Hawker Hunter just before the crash. Picture: CPSAndy Hill performing a loop in the Hawker Hunter just before the crash. Picture: CPS

Mr Justice Edis acknowledged the families were “enormously upset” as he praised the “very dignified way” they conducted themselves throughout the trial.

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