The 11 men who tragically died after a plane crashed at the Shoreham Airshow whilst performing a fateful stunt were unlawfully killed, an inquest has ruled.
A disastrous manoeuvre in a Hawker Hunter aircraft left a fireball on the A27 on August 22, 2015, killing victims including one who had been driving to a football match with a mate.
More than seven years after the infamous catastrophe, that saw pilot Andrew Hill survive after he was ejected from the cockpit, the conclusion into the events was reached.
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Delivering her narrative verdict of an unlawful killing for all 11 men on Today (December 20), Senior Coroner Penelope Schofield began by reading the names of the victims at County Hall in Horsham.
She said: "Eleven innocent lives were cruelly lost on August 22, 2015. Lives that were cut way too short.
"This huge loss will be worn by the families for the rest of their lives. It has been a long journey, some seven years for you, to get the answers you wanted.
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"It has been a difficult journey getting to this stage. I hope you feel that through these proceedings, you now have a voice."
Before its conclusion was reached, the inquest previously heard how air show fan Neil Lewer saw the disaster unfold.
He recalled: “I have experience of how a loop should look and I was thinking ‘he’s going to pull up in a second’, then ‘oh s***, he’s not going to pull up’.
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“I could hear the ear-piercingly loud scream of the jet engine.
"I looked to my left as a fireball and wreckage went flying past us – it was hot and there was the smell of burning in an instant.”
The coroner added that the 11 victims: Anthony Brightwell, 53, Daniele Polito, 23, Dylan Archer, 42, Jacob Schilt, 23, James Mallinson, 72, Mark Reeves, 53, Mark Trussler, 54, Matthew Grimstone, 23, Matthew Jones, 24, Maurice Abrahams, 76, and Richard Smith, 26 had “absolutely no part” in their deaths.
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Senior Coroner Penelope Schofield continued: "The crash occurred because the aircraft's speed on entry into the manoeuvre was too slow and the thrust applied by the pilot in the upward half of the manoeuvre was insufficient.
"The aircraft did not achieve sufficient height at the apex of the manoeuvre to complete it before impacting the ground because the combination of low entry speed and low engine thrust in the upward half of the manoeuvre."
Mr Hill was charged with 11 counts of manslaughter by gross negligence but found not guilty on all counts in March 2019. He maintains he has no recollection of the crash.
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