Inquest: Shoreham victims unlawfully killed

A coroner has ruled that the eleven men who died after a Hawker Hunter crashed on to a major road during the 2015 Shoreham Airshow were unlawfully killed

Senior coroner Penelope Schofield said that eleven lives had been “cruelly lost”, adding that it was clear the Hunter pilot should have abandoned the manoeuvre. Addressing the families of those who died, Ms Schofield added: “It has been a long journey, some seven years for you, to get the answers you wanted. It has been a difficult journey getting to this stage. I hope you feel that, through these proceedings, you now have a voice.”

In March 2019, a criminal court acquitted pilot Andrew Hill – he had been charged with 11 counts of manslaughter by gross negligence but found not guilty on all counts. Hill, who was critically injured in the accident, has stated that he has no memory of the incident, and that he experienced “cognitive impairment” while at the controls, possibly due to g-force related hypoxia. The inquest was scheduled to be held in 2020, but was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hawker Hunter T.7 WV372 (G-BXFI) crashed on August 22, 2015, when it failed to pull out of a loop. It crashed on the west-bound carriageway of the A27, destroying several cars, and igniting a large fireball. Eleven people on the ground were killed and sixteen others – including the pilot - were injured. “Even experienced pilots on the ground could see [the plane] was too low,” the coroner said. “The poor position of the plane in the sky was a further significant error.”

Floral tributes to those who died on Shoreham Tollbridge close to the crash site
Floral tributes to those who died on Shoreham Tollbridge close to the crash site WikiCommons-HarrisonS4433

Concluding the inquest, Ms Schofield read out the names of the eleven men who died: 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.