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Shoreham Airshow crash: Pilot cleared over deaths of 11 men

Andrew Hill said he was “truly sorry” for the part he played in the deaths.

 PA video grab of pilot Andrew Hill, whose plane crashed during the Shoreham Airshow killing 11 men.
PA video grab of pilot Andrew Hill, whose plane crashed during the Shoreham Airshow killing 11 men.
Image: Julia Saqui/PA Wire

THE PILOT OF a jet which crashed at an airshow in England killing 11 men has said he is “truly sorry” for the part played in their deaths after he was today found not guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence.

In August 2015, aerobatic stunt flyer Andrew Hill’s vintage Hawker Hunter military jet failed to pull up in time after a loop manoeuvre and ploughed through cars on a busy road during the Shoreham Airshow, in West Sussex, England.

The crash at the Shoreham Airshow on the southeast English coast created two fireballs that sent thick, black smoke billowing into the sky.

A total of 11 people died as a result. Hill survived the crash. He suffered head injuries and was placed in an induced coma before being released from hospital a month later. 

Charges were later brought against Hill for the incident.

Today, a jury acquitted him of the charge of manslaughter by gross negligence. He was also acquitted of negligently or recklessly endangering the safety of an aircraft.

In a statement outside the courthouse today, Hill listed the names of the people who had died and referenced others who were injured in the incident. 

“I am truly sorry for the part I played in their deaths and it is they I will remember for the rest of my life,” he said. 

“No justice”

Following the verdict, Sue and Phil Grimstone – the parents of Matthew who died in the crash – released a statement, 

They said that there “seems to be no justice for our son Matthew and all 11 men who died in such tragic circumstances”.

They called into the question the safety of all aerobatic air displays “when there is no doubt concerning any pilot’s ability to avoid becoming cognitively impaired” when performing certain maneuvers. 

“Matthew had no interest in air shows, he could not have cared less. Knowing he died because an aircraft was being flown for fun, for the entertainment of others makes it even harder to bear,” the parents said. 

In another statement, Sarah Stewart, a partner at Stewarts, who represent many of the bereaved families called for a wider investigation into the crash, saying:

“It is now almost four years since the Shoreham Airshow disaster killed 11 innocent men. The bereaved families have had to painfully re-live the circumstances of their loved ones’ death again and again,” she said.

The families want answers and a verdict will go some way towards that. But it is only one part of the jigsaw

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Cormac Fitzgerald

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