Shoreham Airshow disaster: Families 'finally about to get some answers' with inquest set to begin

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An inquest into the Shoreham Airshow disaster will begin this week – more than seven years after the tragedy which claimed the lives of 11 men.

The inquest will run over three weeks – beginning on Wednesday (November 30) and ending on Monday, December 19 – at County Hall North in Horsham.

UK law firm Stewarts is representing the majority of the families who lost their loved ones in the disaster in 2015.

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The victims were killed when a Hawker Hunter jet crashed onto the A27 during a display at the Shoreham Airshow on Saturday, August 22. A further 13 people were injured.

The 11 men who died in the Shoreham Airshow disasterThe 11 men who died in the Shoreham Airshow disaster
The 11 men who died in the Shoreham Airshow disaster

The pilot of the plane, Andy Hill, was found not guilty of 11 charges of manslaughter by gross negligence following a lengthy trial.

“This is the last step in a long road to justice and truth for the families of those killed in the Shoreham Airshow disaster,” Sarah Stewart, partner in the Aviation department at Stewarts, said ahead of the inquest.

"After seven years, they are finally about to get some answers on how this disaster happened.

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"The senior coroner’s conclusions will not bring their loved ones back, but there will be some solace in the hope that the findings lead to improved safety in the planning of future air shows.”

Shoreham Airshow Memorial. Picture by Eddie MitchellShoreham Airshow Memorial. Picture by Eddie Mitchell
Shoreham Airshow Memorial. Picture by Eddie Mitchell

Ms Stewart is representing the families at the inquest, alongside leading counsel Gerard Forlin KC and junior counsel Kirsten Heaven.

The inquest will open with two days focussed on the families, during which they will be able to share their pen portraits after a ‘long and difficult journey’.

The pen portraits are an opportunity for family members to speak in open court about their loved ones and how much they are missed.

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Stewarts said the families hope that the surviving pilot Andrew Hill ‘will be present during that process’.

A spokesperson added: “The families hope that through the inquest they will finally get some answers about what happened on August 22, 2015. The senior coroner could rule that Article 2 of the Human Rights Act is engaged.

"Article 2 protects the right to life and allows the senior coroner to broaden her inquiry and look at the systems that were in place that may have contributed to the loss of life.

"It is hoped as part of this inquest the senior coroner will make recommendations to help prevent further, future deaths and the families will be able to take solace from knowing that such recommendations could prevent a similar disaster from ever happening again.”

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The 11 men who died in the air crash were; Maurice Rex Abrahams, 76, of Brighton; Dylan Archer, 42, of Brighton; Anthony David Brightwell, 53, of Hove; Matthew Grimstone, 23, of Brighton; Matthew Wesley Jones, 24, of Littlehampton; James Graham Mallinson, 72, of Newick; Daniele Gaetano Polito, 23, of Goring-by-Sea; Mark Alexander Reeves, 53, of Seaford; Jacob Henry Schilt, 23, of Brighton; Richard Jonathan Smith, 26, of Hove, and Mark James Trussler, 54, of Worthing.

A tribute to the victims of the disaster was installed on the banks of the River Adur in May 2019. The 11 arches represent each victim.

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