Sussex

Shoreham air crash trial: Pilot 'blacked out in the air'

Andy Hill arriving at court Image copyright PA
Image caption Pilot Andrew Hill denies killing 11 men as a result of "dreadful negligence" at the controls of his jet

Pilot Andrew Hill "blacked out" at some point before his Hawker Hunter jet crashed at the Shoreham Airshow killing 11 people, jurors have heard.

In a witness statement read to the Old Bailey, critical care paramedic Mark Durham recalled how he treated Mr Hill at the bottom of a gully by the A27.

He said he was out of his seat, fully conscious and could move all his limbs.

Mr Durham said the pilot told him "he had pain in his chest, but that he had at some point blacked out in the air".

Mr Hill, 54, denies 11 charges of manslaughter by gross negligence.

Recalling the aftermath of the crash on 22 August 2015, Mr Durham said: "We were concerned as there was a strong smell of kerosene and flames and dry gorse."

Mr Hill "was in my opinion at immediate risk of death", he said, adding that the smell of kerosene was growing stronger and "the fire brigade was struggling to control the extra blaze".

It was agreed that an immediate evacuation was needed, and "the patient was lifted onto a stretcher", he recalled.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The Shoreham Airshow has not been staged again since the disaster

In another statement read to the court, Dr Karen Eastman, who was attending the show with her children when the crash happened, told of how she volunteered to help alongside a Red Cross nurse.

She described seeing Mr Hill lying "slightly propped up in the brambles" with a laceration to his forehead.

She said she asked him if he could remember what happened, but he said no.

"I asked if he knew how he got out of the aircraft. He said no.

"I asked if he felt unwell beforehand. He said yes.

"He was definitive in his answers... he kept saying 'we need to leave, we need to go'," Dr Eastman said.

The court heard the paramedics were concerned Mr Hill's condition was deteriorating and that he could have punctured a lung.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The Hawker Hunter jet plummeted on to the A27 on 22 August 2015

Earlier, the trial heard evidence from a pilot who was training to help fly the Hawker Hunter jet involved in the crash on "transit flights" between air shows.

Ben Watts said he accompanied Mr Hill, of Sandon in Hertfordshire, on a practice display flight at Duxford, in Cambridgeshire, in August 2014.

Mr Hill was practising the routine he was going to do at the 2014 Shoreham air show.

Mr Watts filmed the flight on his Go Pro and the footage was played to the court.

Tom Kark QC, prosecuting, asked if during the first loop Mr Hill had a message from the ground stating "crowd line".

Mr Watts replied that Mr Hill "acknowledged it".

When questioned by the pilot's defence team, Mr Watts told the jury he had been "very impressed" with Mr Hill's general approach to the flight.

He was asked: "From what you saw, did he have a cavalier attitude?"

Mr Watts replied: "From my experience the absolute opposite."

The trial continues.

Image copyright BBC/Sussex Police/Facebook
Image caption (Top row, left to right) Matt Jones, Matthew Grimstone, Jacob Schilt, Maurice Abrahams, Richard Smith. (Bottom row, left to right) Mark Reeves, Tony Brightwell, Mark Trussler, Daniele Polito, Dylan Archer, Graham Mallinson

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

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