Human cannonball Matt Cranch death 'accidental'

Matt Cranch
Image caption Matt Cranch was killed taking part in a stunt at Kent County Showground

The death of a "human cannonball" who was fired into the air at a stunt show was an accident, an inquest jury has ruled.

Matthew Cranch, 24, from Newquay, Cornwall, died when a net failed at Scott May's Daredevil Stunt Show in Kent in April 2011.

It collapsed because a quick release mechanism was not properly set, the inquest heard.

Mr Cranch's family said after the inquest they would "never recover".

Image caption Mr Cranch died in hospital after being fired from the cannon mounted on a lorry
Image caption The quick-release mechanism on the net was incorrectly set the inquest was told

Mr Cranch - who was from the Isle of Man but was living in Newquay - died in hospital after being fired from the cannon mounted on a lorry, the inquest in Maidstone, Kent, was told.

The inquest also heard tests carried out after his death showed the net quick-release mechanism could be set incorrectly by mistake, causing it to fall to the ground when the firing lorry recoiled.

'Free spirit'

In its conclusion, the jury said: "At some point during the firing of the cannonball, the safety net quick release mechanism activated prematurely as a result of it being incorrectly set.

"As a result, Matthew Cranch sustained multiple injuries."

Show owner, Cornwall-based Stunts UK Ltd, said the cannonball showpiece had been performed about 1,000 times with no problems.

Mr Cranch who had joined the stunt team about four weeks before his death, had performed the showpiece five times before his death.

Kent Police said in December 2012 that no criminal prosecution would be brought over the death.

Mr Cranch's family said: "Matthew was a 'free spirit', who truly was a genuine guy.

"He brought to the world a kindness, gentleness, sensitivity, fairness and incredible sense of humour, an unforgettable smile and the very best of big hugs.

"The loss of our son is a matter we can never accept or recover from."

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