Inquest into 2015 Shoreham Airshow fireball crash is delayed AGAIN

Families of 11 men killed in Shoreham airshow fireball crash face are STILL waiting for GoPro cockpit footage before an inquest into their deaths can take place

  • Relatives fear 2015 Shoreham Air Show disaster inquest will be further delayed
  • West Sussex coroner Penelope Schofield has requested protected GoPro clips 
  • Footage, protected under EU law, is normally released in national security cases 
  • Pilot Andrew Hill, who crashed vintage jet on A27, killing 11 and injuring 16 more, claims the GoPro video proves he suffered ‘cognitive impairment’ in cockpit 

The families of people killed during an air show disaster seven years ago have been told they could face further delay to the start of the inquest into their deaths. 

Grieving loved ones have been made to wait to see the start of the inquiry into the 2015 Shoreham Airshow crash in West Sussex that claimed the lives of 11 people. 

Pilot Andrew Hill’s Hawker Hunter T7 jet crashed on the A27 – resulting in 11 fatalities and 16 injuries – following a loop-the-loop attempt at the event on August 22, 2015. 

Sussex coroner Penelope Schofield has delayed the beginning of proceedings, which were due to start in October 2021, after requesting protected GoPro data that Mr Hill claims will prove he suffered ‘cognitive impairment’ inside the cockpit. 

The footage, which is protected under EU law, and can only be used for ‘safety investigations’ is currently the subject of a High Court case.

Security judges, who usually make such rulings for cases involving senior British intelligence, were due to make a call yesterday on whether or not the clips can be used at the inquest.

But there were no forthcoming rulings made during Thursday’s pre-inquest review  and that hearing has been postponed for another month, leaving frustrated friends and relatives waiting for closure.

Pilot Andrew Hill’s 1950s Hawker Hunter T7 jet crashed on the A27 in West Sussex – resulting in 11 fatalities and 16 injuries – following a loop-the-loop attempt at the event on August 22, 2015 

 Mr Hill claims the protected GoPro footage will show he suffered ‘cognitive impairment’ inside the cockpit of the vintage military plane

August 22, 2015, 1.22pm: A vintage Hawker Hunter jet flown by pilot Andrew Hill crashes mid-stunt on to the A27 at Shoreham in West Sussex during an airshow, killing 11 men.

August 23: The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB), Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and Sussex Police all launch probes into the crash.

August 24: The CAA temporarily grounds all Hawker Hunters and limits vintage jets to flypasts during airshows.

September 2: The identities of all 11 victims are officially confirmed as an inquest is opened and adjourned by West Sussex senior coroner Penelope Schofield. 

December 15: Hill is interviewed by police officers from the Surrey and Sussex Major Crime Team under caution after voluntarily attending a station near his Hertfordshire home but is not arrested.

April 14, 2016: The CAA says it is tightening rules for all show organisers when it publishes its final report in the wake of the crash.

July 8: It emerges police are investigating Hill for manslaughter by gross negligence and endangerment of life under air navigation laws.

January 24, 2017: The CAA agrees to accept all the safety measures made by the AAIB in the wake of the tragedy, meaning stricter safety rules for pilots and organisers, after it initially rejected almost half of the recommendations.

March 3: The AAIB publishes its findings in a 219-page report following one of its longest investigations in recent years. Investigators found the disaster was caused by the pilot flying too slow and too low.

Former BA pilot Andy Hill had been attempting a loop in the vintage military jet when he crashed onto the A27 on August 22, 2015, killing 11 people.

He was thrown from the cockpit wreckage and seriously injured, telling medics he had ‘blacked out’ during the ordeal.

Hill was taken to hospital and put in an induced coma before being discharged a month later.  

Two days after the crash, all Hawker Hunter planes were grounded for use in the UK and vintage jets were limited to flyovers during airshows. 

The following year, the Civil Aviation Authority announced tighter rules for air show organisers after publishing its full findings of the crash in April.

A report published by the Air Accident Investigations Branch in 2017 ruled the crash was avoidable, and had been caused by the pilot flying ‘too low and too slowly’ for such a manouvere. 

Mr Hill was found not guilty of 11 counts of gross negligence manslaughter following a lengthy trial at London’s Old Bailey in 2019.  

At trial, Mr Hill of Sandon, Buntingford, Hertfordshire was accused of having a ‘cavalier attitude’ to safety and had previously taken unnecessary risks during airshows, according to prosecutors.

They said he was flying too low and too slow to be able to safely execute the loop manoeuvre.

But his defence team claimed he had been affected by the G Forces which had caused a subtle ‘cognitive impairment’ related to hypoxia and the jury returned unanimous not guilty verdicts.

Speaking outside the Old Bailey following the verdict, Mr Hill read out the names of those who died and said: ‘I’m truly sorry for the part I played in their deaths.’

After the trial the families of the victims spoke outside court and said they felt ‘let down by the justice system’.

Coroner Schofield has applied to the High Court for permission to use GoPro footage from two cameras mounted on the plane at the inquest.

The High Court must now grant this request before the material can be released for the families to view. 

International agreement between Britain and the EU dictate the use of material which can improve air safety.  

Previously, Sussex Police successfully applied to use the GoPro footage in a criminal prosecution. 

The lack of any new announcement on Thursday was just the latest in a long line of setbacks that grieving family members have faced in their six year wait for closure. 

Relatives said they feared the inquest would now be pushed back into the spring, with one telling The Argus: ‘We’ve learnt, going into the seventh year, that things can go on and on.’ 

A spokesman for solicitors representing a group of families said: ‘Whilst the date of the next PIRH has been pushed back to the start of February pending the outcome of the Coroner’s high court application for disclosure, it is unclear whether the inquest date will also be postponed.

‘Although it now appears likely that there will be some further delays, we will only be able to confirm this after we have received the high court’s decision.’  

A report published by the Air Accident Investigations Branch in 2017 ruled the crash was avoidable, and had been caused by the pilot flying ‘too low and too slowly’ for such a manouvere. Pictured: The 1950s Hawker Hunter jet

Who were the 11 victims of the 2015 Shoreham air disaster?

Maurice Abrahams

Maurice Abrahams, 76:

Chauffeur Mr Abrahams, from Brighton, was en route in his classic Daimler to collect bride Rebecca Sheen and take her to her wedding when the plane crashed.

A former police officer with Hampshire Constabulary, he was an ex-member of the Grenadier Guards and Parachute Regiment, and had served in Cyprus and Bahrain with the UN.

In his later years, he enjoyed working for East Sussex-based Chariots Chauffeurs as well as gardening.

His funeral was held at St Margaret’s Church in Rottingdean, where he had driven brides to their weddings countless times.

Married to Edwina, Mr Abrahams had a son, Eddie, and daughter Lizzie.

Graham Mallinson

James Graham Mallinson, known as Graham, 72:

Retired engineer Mr Mallinson, from Newick, near Lewes, had gone to Shoreham to photograph one of the last Vulcan bomber flights.

Relatives said he was kind and generous with a ‘great sense of humour’. 

He was a private and loving family man, they added.

A lifetime member of the Bluebell Railway in East Sussex, married father Mr Mallinson had recently developed an interest in photographing vintage aircraft.

Father-of-six Mark Trussler

Mark Trussler, 54:

Father-of-six Mr Trussler, a window cleaner from Worthing, had taken his motorbike for a spin on the day of the tragedy as he had also wanted to see the Vulcan flight.

While in Shoreham, he texted his fiancee Giovanna Chirico telling her to get the children ready so they could take them out for lunch on his return home.

She told him she loved him and his last words to her were, ‘I love you too, forever’.

A motorbike and rugby fan, he was also described as a doting father.

 Tony Brightwell, 53:

Health care manager Mr Brightwell, from Hove, was indulging his twin passions of planes and cycling when tragedy struck.

His fiancee Lara watched him cycle off to watch one of the last Vulcan bomber flights, ‘but he never came home’, she said.

Mr Brightwell gained his private pilot licence at Shoreham, loved food and cooking, and admired Second World War pilots.

Dylan Archer, 42, and Richard Smith, 26:

IT consultant Mr Archer, a father of two who lived in Brighton, and Mr Smith, who lived in Hove, were due to meet up with a third friend to head out for a cycle ride in the South Downs.

Mr Archer, who grew up in the Midlands, had a lifelong passion for bikes and cars, and rode the bike he made himself on the day he died.

Dylan Archer and Richard Smith were due to meet up with a third friend to go on a cycle ride when they were killed in the Shoreham tragedy 

After going to university in Birmingham, Buckinghamshire-raised Mr Smith worked in a bicycle shop in Cosham, Portsmouth.

He later moved to Hove where he worked in marketing and web development at ActSmart, a firm that specialises in providing advice to the cycle industry.  

Mark Reeves, 53:

Computer-aided design technician Mr Reeves, from Seaford, near Eastbourne, had parked his motorbike to take photographs of planes when the crash happened.

A grandfather, relatives described him as a ‘sun worshipper’ who would often be seen relaxing with a cocktail in hand on holiday.

His family said he was combining two favourite hobbies of riding his cherished Honda bike to take photographs at the air show.

Matthew Grimstone and Jacob Schilt, both 23:

The two Worthing United footballers were travelling together in a car to a 3pm home game against Loxwood FC when they were caught up in the crash.

Mr Grimstone’s parents Sue and Phil and brothers David and Paul called him the ‘kindest person you could ever meet’.

Team-mates said Mr Schilt was a ‘tenacious midfielder’ with an eye for a goal.

Mr Grimstone had also worked at Brighton & Hove Albion for seven years, most recently as a groundsman at the Lancing training ground.

Matthew Grimstone and Jacob Schilt, both 23, were travelling to Worthing United to play in a home game against Loxwood FC when they were caught up in the crash

Matt Jones, 24, and Daniele Polito, 23:

Father Daniele Polito, from Worthing, was travelling in the same car as personal trainer Matt Jones when tragedy struck.

Mr Polito’s mother Leslye Polito said on the first anniversary of the disaster that the previous 12 months had failed to ease her loss. 

A keen DJ, Mr Jones had reportedly recently returned to the UK from living in Australia.

Matt Jones and Daniele Polito both died in the same car  

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