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Shoreham Airshow crash pilot 'truly sorry' as he is cleared of manslaughter

Shoreham Airshow crash pilot Andrew Hill has been found not guilty of manslaughter over the deaths of 11 men.

The 54-year-old was acquitted at the Old Bailey on Friday, with the jury having gone out to consider their verdicts on Wednesday.

Mr Hill had been attempting a loop when his Hawker Hunter jet exploded into a fireball on the A27.

Eleven men were killed when a Hawker Hunter jet crashed onto the A27. Credit: Family handouts

Survivors ran for their lives and suffered terrible burns when they were caught in the blast on August 22, 2015.

Judge Mr Justice Edis praised the "dignified" manner of the victims' families during the trial, many of whom wept as the verdicts were delivered.

Outside court, Mr Hill described himself as "truly sorry" for the part he played in the victims' deaths.

Having read out the names of the victims, Mr Hill said: "I'm truly sorry for the part I played in their deaths."

Eleven people died in the crash. Credit: PA

Mr Hill miraculously survived after being thrown clear from the burning wreckage into brambles.

He had to be flown to hospital and placed into an induced coma while he was treated for life-threatening injuries - eventually being discharged a month later.

Eleven men were killed in the crash.

They were Maurice Abrahams, 76; Dylan Archer, 42; Tony Brightwell, 53; Matthew Grimstone, 23; Matt Jones, 24; Graham Mallinson, 72; Daniele Polito, 23; Mark Reeves, 53; Jacob Schilt, 23; Richard Smith, 26; and Mark Trussler, 54, who all lived in Sussex.

The crash represented the greatest loss of life at an air show since 1952, when 31 people, including the pilot, were killed at Farnborough Airshow.

Some survivors suffered severe burns. Credit: PA

The prosecution said the former RAF and British Airways pilot had been flying too low and slow as he attempted the disastrous stunt.

Tom Kark QC alleged he had at times a "cavalier" attitude to safety and a history of taking risks, having played "fast and loose" with the rules in the past.

But Mr Hill claimed he blacked out in the air, having experienced "cognitive impairment" brought on by hypoxia possibly due to the effects of G-force.

In 2017, a report by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch also found the disaster was caused by pilot error after the plane was too slow and too low during a loop manoeuvre.

But Mr Hill said he took a "very structured, disciplined approach" to display flying.

Mr Hill claimed that he blacked out in the air. Credit: PA

Mr Justice Edis acknowledged the families were "enormously upset" as he praised the "very dignified way" they conducted themselves throughout the trial

Outside court, Leslye Polito, the mother of the youngest crash victim, Daniele Polito, 23, said she felt "disappointed, very upset and primarily let down by the justice system".

She said: "The whole fact that it was avoidable, that was the hardest bit to consider and process. It's still the hardest bit."

In a statement issued via Sussex Police, Sue and Phil Grimstone, whose son Matthew died in the crash, said: "Obviously we are devastated the jury have reached this verdict.

"There seems to be no justice for our son Matthew and all 11 men who died in such tragic circumstances."

Mr Hill, from Sandon, Buntingford, Hertfordshire, denied 11 counts of manslaughter by gross negligence.