The pilot of a jet which crashed at the Shoreham Airshow killing 11 men has been found not guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence.
Andrew Hill’s ex-military jet exploded in a fireball on the A27 in Sussex on 22 August 2015.
The ex-RAF pilot denied deliberately beginning a loop manoeuvre despite flying too low and too slowly.
Karim Khalil QC, defending, argued Mr Hill had been suffering from “cognitive impairment” when the jet crashed.
Mr Hill was also formally found not guilty of a count that was not put in front of the jury of negligently or recklessly endangering the safety of an aircraft.
There were gasps from the families in the courtroom with many in tears as the verdicts were read out.
Mr Justice Edis told the relatives: “I am enormously impressed and grateful for the dignified way you have all behaved.
“I can see that you are upset and you are absolutely entitled to be but despite being upset you have behaved in a way which does you great credit.”
In a statement Sue and Phil Grimstone, whose son Matthew died in the crash, said: “There seems to be no justice for our son Matthew and all 11 men who died in such tragic circumstances.
“Why are we allowing any form of aerobatics to be performed when there is now doubt concerning any pilot’s ability to avoid becoming cognitively impaired from the normal G forces that will be experienced during an aerobatic display?
“Matthew had no interest in air shows, he could not have cared less. Knowing he died because an aircraft was being flown for fun, for the entertainment of others makes it even harder to bear.”
On the steps of the court, Mr Hill read out the names of all 11 victims and said: “A number of people were injured. I’m truly sorry for the part I played in their deaths and it’s they I will remember for the rest of my life.”
The men who died
- Matt Jones, a 24-year-old personal trainer
- Daniele Polito, 23 was travelling in the same car as Mr Jones
- Matthew Grimstone, 23, a Worthing United footballer who worked as a groundsman at Brighton & Hove Albion
- Jacob Schilt, also 23 and also a Worthing United player, was travelling to a match with Mr Grimstone
- Maurice Abrahams, 76, from Brighton, was a chauffeur on his way to pick up a bride on her wedding day
- Friends Richard Smith, 26, and Dylan Archer, 42, who were going for a bike ride on the South Downs
- Mark Reeves, 53, had ridden his motorcycle to the perimeter of Shoreham Airport to take photos of the planes
- Tony Brightwell, 53, from Hove was an aircraft enthusiast and had learnt to fly at Shoreham airfield
- Mark Trussler, 54, had gone to watch the display on his Suzuki motorbike and was standing next to the road
- James “Graham” Mallinson, 72, from Newick, was a photographer and retired engineer