Shoreham air disaster: Criminal investigation into pilot almost complete
West Sussex coroner Penelope Schofield said the inquest may have to be suspended pending the outcome of any criminal prosecution.
The criminal investigation into the pilot involved in the Shoreham air disaster is “95% complete”, police have said.
Eleven men were killed when a vintage Hawker Hunter jet plummeted on to the A27 in West Sussex during a loop-the-loop stunt at the Shoreham Airshow on August 22, 2015.
Pilot Andrew Hill, 53, is being investigated for possible manslaughter by gross negligence and he has been questioned voluntarily under caution by police.
Detective Superintendent Adam Hibbert of Sussex Police gave an update on the force’s inquiry during a pre-inquest review hearing into the crash.
He said: “The police investigation is now some 95% complete and following our recent meeting with the Crown Prosecution Service, an initial file is now being drawn up and I can confirm that process is under way.
“We continue to talk with the families and I’m extremely grateful for their continued support and patience in what continues to be upsetting circumstances for them all.”
He told the hearing at Centenary House, Crawley, that a “conservative estimate” is that 25,000 documents in relation to the inquiry are now held on the force’s database.
West Sussex coroner Penelope Schofield said the inquest may have to be suspended pending the outcome of any criminal prosecution, but assured the families present at the hearing that “I am monitoring the police investigation”.
Setting a date for a further pre-inquest review on January 24 next year, Ms Schofield said: “I want to assure you I am satisfied that they are moving forward as quickly as they can in quite difficult circumstances and they are hoping to bring their investigation to a conclusion as quickly as possible.”
Gerard Forlin QC, speaking on behalf of all the families of the victims after the hearing, said: “The families are understandably very disappointed. This matter took place over 22 months ago.
“However what they want is a full, frank, thorough and fearless investigation into this incident, and of course for that they will wait as patiently as they can.”
A final report from the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) published in March found Mr Hill, from Sandon, Hertfordshire, was flying too slow and too low during the loop manoeuvre.
Investigators said the speed the 1955 Hawker Hunter plane entered the manoeuvre was too low and it failed to use maximum thrust.
Measures taken to mitigate the effects of an aircraft crashing outside the airshow’s boundary were “ineffective” and contributed to the severity of the crash toll, they added.
The AAIB made a total of 32 safety recommendations for the Civil Aviation Authority, including 10 in the final report. The CAA said it would act on them “as a priority”.
The 11 men who died were: wedding chauffeur Maurice Abrahams, 76, from Brighton; retired engineer James Graham Mallinson, 72, from Newick, near Lewes; window cleaner and builder Mark Trussler, 54, from Worthing; cycling friends Dylan Archer, 42, from Brighton, and Richard Smith, 26, from Hove; NHS manager Tony Brightwell, 53, from Hove; grandfather Mark Reeves, 53, from Seaford; Worthing United footballers Matthew Grimstone and Jacob Schilt, both 23; personal trainer Matt Jones, 24; and Daniele Polito, 23, from Worthing.
Shoreham Airshow organisers have said it is unlikely they will stage “the same or similar style event” in the future.
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