REGIONAL: Shoreham Airshow disaster pilot to be charged with manslaughter

Pilot Andy Hill
Pilot Andy Hill
Fire crews rescued a man from an overturned lorry at a housing development in Waterlooville on April 5. Picture: Jeff Coates

Man rescued from crashed overturned lorry at Waterlooville housing development

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THE pilot whose plane crashed in the Shoreham Airshow disaster, killing 11 men, will be charged with manslaughter by gross negligence.

Andrew Hill, whose vintage Hawker Hunter jet plummeted on to the A27 in West Sussex at 1.22pm on August 22, 2015, also faces allegations of endangerment of an aircraft under navigation laws.

A trained Royal Air Force instructor and fast jet pilot, Hill was thrown clear of his 1950s fighter bomber in the accident – which resulted in a fireball after a failed loop-the-loop.

He was taken to hospital with serious injuries and placed into an induced coma before being discharged.

The action now being taken against him comes after an announcement was made by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to families of the disaster’s victims, at a private meeting in Lewes, East Sussex, yesterday.

In a statement Simon Ringrose, of the CPS special crime division, said: ‘Following a careful review of the evidence I have found there is sufficient evidence to charge Andrew Hill with the manslaughter by gross negligence of the 11 men who died.

‘I have also authorised a further charge against Mr Hill of endangering an aircraft, contrary to article 137 of the Air Navigation Order 2009.’

It is understood Hill, 54, was informed of the charges by phone and will be formally notified by post, as he is due to appear before Westminster Magistrates’ Court on April 19.

He will be charged with 11 counts of manslaughter by gross negligence – an offence which carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment – and one count of endangering an aircraft, which can incur a jail term of up to five years, the CPS said.

Mr Ringrose added: ‘Sussex Police conducted a thorough and detailed investigation into the incident and in November 2017 submitted a full file of evidence to the CPS in relation to the actions of the pilot.

‘In accordance with the code for crown prosecutors, I have considered whether there is sufficient evidence to charge Mr Hill with any offence and if so whether it is in the public interest to do so.’

The news came on the same day the CPS announced it was the first national public body to sign up to the Charter for Families Bereaved through Public Tragedy, which pledges transparency and sensitivity with those who lose loved ones in major disasters.

Hill was questioned for the first time by police in December, 2015, under caution after voluntarily attending an interview but was not arrested.

A pre-inquest review is due to take place on Monday and the full inquest was expected to take place in September.

This will now be postponed until the criminal proceedings are concluded.

PA WIRE