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Pilot to face ‘manslaughter’ charges in connection with Shoreham disaster

Eleven men died as a result of the tragedy when a vintage jet plunged onto a major road.

The pilot whose plane crashed in the Shoreham Airshow disaster, killing 11 men, will be charged with manslaughter by gross negligence, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has announced.

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

The crash occurred after the 1950s fighter bomber failed to pull out of a loop-the-loop and crashed into a fireball.

Hill, a trained Royal Air Force instructor and fast jet pilot, was thrown clear of the aircraft but taken to hospital with serious injuries and placed into an induced coma before being discharged.

Simon Ringrose, of the CPS special crime division, announced the news to families of the victims at a private meeting in Lewes, East Sussex, on Wednesday evening.

In a statement he 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.”

(Air Accidents Investigation Branch)

There was no sign of Hill at his country home in Sandon, Hertfordshire, on Wednesday but the Press Association understands he was informed of the charges by phone and will be formally notified by post.

Hill, who turns 54 on Thursday, is due to appear before Westminster Magistrates’ Court on April 19.

A memorial board near Shoreham Airport (Gareth Fuller/PA)

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.”

Police working on the A27 after the Shoreham airshow disaster (Steve Parsons/PA)

The news comes 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 to be open with those who lose loved ones in major disasters and to treat them in a sensitive manner.

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.

Press Association

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