Shoreham Airshow disaster pilot challenges inquest verdict

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The pilot of a plane which killed 11 men when it crashed during an airshow is challenging the findings of an inquest – which said the victims were unlawfully killed.

The Hawker Hunter flown by Andrew Hill plummeted on to the A27 during an aerial display at the Shoreham Airshow, West Sussex, on August 22 2015.

On December 20 2022, West Sussex senior coroner Penelope Schofield made her conclusion of unlawful killing months after denying a request from Mr Hill to rule out the verdict in advance.

Mr Hill, who survived the crash and says he has no memory of it, has applied for a judicial review into the conclusion in a move described as a “body blow” to the victims’ families.

A memorial for the victims of the Shoreham air crash on a bridge near to the crash site
A memorial for the victims of the Shoreham Airshow crash on a bridge near to the crash site (PA)

“The coroner has received a judicial review pre-action letter from Mr Hill regarding the Shoreham Airshow inquest conclusion into the death of 11 men,” a spokesman for the West Sussex County Council coroner’s service said.

Tim Loughton, MP for East Worthing and Shoreham who was present at the conclusion of the inquest, described the decision to appeal as “cruel and insensitive beyond words”.

He added: “After more than seven years’ patient and dignified wait for closure after the Shoreham Airshow tragedy, the news that the coroner’s verdict is to be challenged will come as a body blow to the families of the victims.”

Mr Hill was charged with 11 counts of manslaughter by gross negligence but, after a trial, was found not guilty in March 2019.

Ms Schofield said although she recorded a narrative verdict of unlawful killing, it did not “detract from the fact” of Mr Hill’s acquittal in a criminal court.

Shoreham Airshow crash inquest
Eleven men died after a Hawker Hunter plane crashed into the A27 during the Shoreham Airshow (CPS/PA)

Although Mr Hill attended the inquest several times after it began on November 30 2022, he was not present for Ms Schofield’s conclusion.

The 11 victims were 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 Hove.

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