Sussex

Shoreham air crash: Pilot Andrew Hill 'can't remember tragedy'

Andy Hill arriving at court on first day of defence - 13/2/19 Image copyright PA
Image caption Andrew Hill denies 11 counts of manslaughter by gross negligence

The pilot of a vintage fighter jet has told a court he has no memory of his plane crashing at the Shoreham air show or of the days leading up to it.

Andrew Hill said he had no memory from three days before the crash to when he woke from a coma the following month.

The 54-year-old told the Old Bailey he had spent the last three years "trying to resolve what happened".

He denies 11 counts of manslaughter by gross negligence when his Hawker Hunter jet crashed on 22 August 2015.

The court has heard 11 men were killed in the crash on the A27 after Mr Hill failed to complete an aerobatic manoeuvre.

'Dreadful tragedy'

As he gave evidence for the second day, Mr Hill, from Sandon in Hertfordshire, said he had no memory of taking off on the day of the crash, or any part of the display.

"Probably most of the last three years have been spent trying on earth to resolve what happened," he told jurors.

Asked by Karim Khalil QC, defending, if this had been easy, he replied: "No, because it caused a dreadful tragedy to a lot of people.

"I was the pilot, I was in charge of the aircraft."

Image copyright CPS
Image caption The court has heard Mr Hill was performing a "bent loop" manoeuvre when the jet crashed

Mr Hill later told the court: "I don't know what I did. I know what the aircraft did."

Footage of the flight from inside the jet shown to the jury showed the aircraft lining up with the road.

Asked if that made any sense, Mr Hill said: "No."

Mr Hill also said: "I don't accept I was doing a loop."

And questioned if he knew what he was doing, Mr Hill said: "It doesn't fit into a classic manoeuvre."

He also noted that the plane was not being "particularly well flown" and was "not being controlled properly".

Watching the moment when the aircraft reduced power, Mr Hill said: "It's the last thing you would want to do."

Asked if he had any explanation, Mr Hill said: "None at all."

Jurors were told that upon impact with the ground, the pilot's seat ejected, and Mr Hill from it, in what is called "seat separation".

The court was told that immediately after the crash Mr Hill was asked what happened and he said he did not know.

Image copyright CPS
Image caption Mr Hill was thrown from the cockpit of the Hawker Hunter after it crashed

Asked if he had felt unwell beforehand, Mr Hill said "yes", jurors heard.

Mr Hill told the court that if he had felt unwell before the flight he would not have flown.

Jurors also heard a paramedic said the pilot had told him he had some pain in his chest and also told him "at some point he blacked out".

Reading a statement by Mr Hill in 2017, his defence counsel quoted him as saying "people lost their lives as a direct result of an accident I was involved in".

Asked if he had continued to think like this, Mr Hill told the court: "Yes, it's the dominant thought of my life."

'Nasty dawning moment'

Earlier, the court heard how Mr Hill had "embarrassed" himself by flying too close to the crowd at the Southport air show in 2014.

He recalled having a "nasty dawning moment", but managed to turn his plane around, ending the display shortly before being ordered to by controllers on the ground.

The prosecution has also accused him of another breach in procedure at the Shoreham air show in 2014.

The court was told he flew over Lancing College, near the airport, despite it being prohibited, but Mr Hill denied this had happened.

However, jurors heard him agree that a video from a camera fitted in his cockpit made it look like he had.

The trial continues.

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