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Shoreham Airshow Crash Trial

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Shoreham Airshow Crash Trial

Old 21st Dec 2022, 08:50
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All valid points but if Mr Hill had ploughed into this junction in a lorry, at the wrong speed and in the wrong lane, we would not bat an eyelid at the thought of him being prosecuted and found guilty. He was not found guilty of course because of a new medical phenomena that nobody had heard of before, or since.
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Old 21st Dec 2022, 09:39
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A juxtaposition

AHís defence team went to great lengths at his criminal trial to have him found not guilty because nobody could prove that cognitive impairment had not happened. The coroner stated that there was no evidence of impairment due to G forces. That is a very interesting clash of legal standpoints.

I realise it is probably too late for anything else to happen now but if I were a family member of the deceased I would still not feel that justice has been done.

We could argue about this until our dying days but the bottom line is that an inexperienced and under qualified individual was doing low level aerobatics at a venue that was unsuitable (at least unsuitable for an inexperienced and under qualified pilot).

I was not at the trial and I have not been through everything with a fine toothed comb but I have watched the videos in the public domain. That aircraft was being flown until impact.

I understand that there are those that still wish to defend AH and all credit to you. But there are those of us that have enough experience of flying jets to still know that a clever legal defence cannot change facts.

BV
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Old 21st Dec 2022, 09:59
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Originally Posted by Bob Viking
AH’s defence team went to great lengths at his criminal trial to have him found not guilty because nobody could prove that cognitive impairment had not happened. The coroner stated that there was no evidence of impairment due to G forces. That is a very interesting clash of legal standpoints.

I realise it is probably too late for anything else to happen now but if I were a family member of the deceased I would still not feel that justice has been done.

We could argue about this until our dying days but the bottom line is that an inexperienced and under qualified individual was doing low level aerobatics at a venue that was unsuitable (at least unsuitable for an inexperienced and under qualified pilot).

I was not at the trial and I have not been through everything with a fine toothed comb but I have watched the videos in the public domain. That aircraft was being flown until impact.

I understand that there are those that still wish to defend AH and all credit to you. But there are those of us that have enough experience of flying jets to still know that a clever legal defence cannot change facts.

BV
This is really just an illustration as to how our legal system works, and why it should (in my view) continue to work this way. To be found guilty the jury need to be convinced "beyond all reasonable doubt". It is the prosecution's job to do that. In the criminal hearing the defence introduced enough "reasonable doubt" for the jury to remain unconvinced that the prosecution had made a strong enough case. That is how it should be - if we lower that standard then we risk more people being wrongly convicted.

The flaw with the height of the bar we have fixed in place before someone can be convicted is that some of the guilty walk free. I think we all know this and see this every day in our courts, even if most cases don't make the headlines as this one did. Nothing that Andrew Hill's defence team did was ruled as being wrong or unlawful: had it been, the judge could have intervened to resolve any points of law involved (with the jury out of the court whilst this happened). The judge was content for the evidence of impairment to be heard, and that evidence most probably swung the verdict.

I'm sure there are lots of detailed legal points surrounding both the competence of expert witnesses and whether an expert witness may be biased.

The question this case raises is whether the defence expert witness was competent. My instinctive feeling is that he may have been a very good doctor, and well-qualified, but that he lacked experience of aero-medicine, and that may not have been made clear to the jury.
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Old 21st Dec 2022, 10:48
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Folks - we're going back to the original arguments. I don't think any one has changed their minds - whatever conclusion you, personally came to won't chnage

I suggest we don't refight the same issues at enormous length.
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Old 21st Dec 2022, 11:11
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Asturias

On the contrary. I think weíre all a little more free to say what we really think now. That luxury was not afforded to us previously.

While Iím on the subject donít you think itís a bit weird that someone who, by his own admission, is neither ex or current military nor an aviator would hang about in this forum trying to discourage chat about a subject of great interest to ex and current military aviators and non aviators alike?

Or should this forum fully degrade into somewhere to discuss BBQs and nothing else?

BV

Last edited by Bob Viking; 21st Dec 2022 at 11:27.
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Old 21st Dec 2022, 12:39
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Originally Posted by Bob Viking
On the contrary. I think weíre all a little more free to say what we really think now. That luxury was not afforded to us previously.

While Iím on the subject donít you think itís a bit weird that someone who, by his own admission, is neither ex or current military nor an aviator would hang about in this forum trying to discourage chat about a subject of great interest to ex and current military aviators and non aviators alike?

Or should this forum fully degrade into somewhere to discuss BBQs and nothing else?

BV
Pretty much there are we not?
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Old 21st Dec 2022, 14:42
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Originally Posted by biscuit74
The Coroner is obliged to rule on what, in her opinion was the underlying cause or causes. That she has now done.
This gives some clarity to the victims' relatives and friends, unlike the rather poorly handled criminal trial. This verdict seems to accord with the views of quite a number of people with appropriate & relevant aviation experience, sadly.

It is, I think, quite feasible that civil prosecution(s) of Mr Hill could follow, perhaps either to try to get fuller acknowledgement from him or for damages. Not necessarily very useful, but possible.
There may be civil claims for damages but there cannot be a "civil prosecution". Very rarely there can be a "private prosecution" but not in this case. With very few exceptions, which wouldn't apply here, you cannot be prosecuted again having been found not guilty by a jury.
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Old 21st Dec 2022, 14:45
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Although the difference in our industry between safety and legal process is narrowing (society in general); discussions should avoid intermixing the views.

One view learns, or should learn; the other punishes, then claims to have learnt.
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Old 21st Dec 2022, 14:47
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Originally Posted by _Agrajag_
Does the change in the double jeopardy law have any impact?

Might it now be possible for Andrew Hill to face a re-trial, on the basis of the findings by the coroner?
No and no.

For the reasons stated in my post above.
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Old 21st Dec 2022, 14:52
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The 'beyond reasonable doubt' factor was the key to the accquital in the criminal trial of course. Whether the supposed cognitive impairment met that criteria can certainly be argued, but obviously the jury thought so.
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Old 21st Dec 2022, 15:51
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The legal process has had its say whether you agree with the outcome or not. Only AH may have the full facts, regardless he will have to live with events of the day for the remainder of his time.
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Old 21st Dec 2022, 15:55
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As a non-pilot I am in no position to comment on airmanship; and won’t, except to repeat something said before, that the pilot fully admitted he screwed up, but didn’t know why. Hence his defence, which I can’t comment on either.

But there is no way the Coroner conducted a thorough investigation. She was hidebound by the restrictive High Court ruling regarding the AAIB report, making the scope of her Inquest very narrow. She could take no account of the prior negligence set out in the report. There is no ‘balance’ to her ‘balance of probabilities’ test, as mitigating evidence was not allowed to be heard. Hers is judicial truth, not the actual truth. One needs the latter to prevent recurrence, which is meant to be one of her primary aims.

As an engineer I’d like to see a comprehensive Inquiry into why the pilot was given an aircraft that had no valid airworthiness or serviceability certification, and was not fit for purpose. Any engineer reading the AAIB report will tell you one thing. That aircraft should not have been flying. The state of the fuel pump diaphragm alone tells you that.

Perhaps the RAF (not MoD) could have offered as a witness a member of its Hunter Design Authority team? Sarcastic? Yes. But fundamental. What complete **** allowed that premise through the certification process?
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Old 21st Dec 2022, 17:55
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Originally Posted by tucumseh
As a non-pilot I am in no position to comment on airmanship; and wonít, except to repeat something said before, that the pilot fully admitted he screwed up, but didnít know why. Hence his defence, which I canít comment on either.

But there is no way the Coroner conducted a thorough investigation. She was hidebound by the restrictive High Court ruling regarding the AAIB report, making the scope of her Inquest very narrow. She could take no account of the prior negligence set out in the report. There is no Ďbalanceí to her Ďbalance of probabilitiesí test, as mitigating evidence was not allowed to be heard. Hers is judicial truth, not the actual truth. One needs the latter to prevent recurrence, which is meant to be one of her primary aims.
Which of the alternative verdicts available to a Coroner do you think she should have delivered ?
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Old 21st Dec 2022, 18:40
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Originally Posted by KrisKringle
The criminal trial may not have been the verdict that many biased by news snippets and rumour wanted to hear but 'poorly handled' it was not. I get it, we want someone to pin all the blame for a tragedy, that is human nature, and the pilot who ultimately caused the crash is the obvious person. This coroner's verdict saves the complexity of investigating those that set up an unsafe environment for which only a public enquiry could have the time and resources to explore.

However, If you mean 'poorly handled' is listening to a broad range of experts and witnesses under cross-examination by the UK's best QCs in front of an impartial judge and jury then I would suggest you views of the criminal trial is bizarrely warped. Did this coroner seek a broad range of SMEs with different analyses and opinions and did she, or the lawyers represented, cross examine them? Did she only seek those experts who had a purpose to hide their own (or their organisation's) deficiencies which set up the inevitable tragedy? I don't know as I've only read news snippets.

What I read of the trial suggested that some of the 'expert' testimony was dubious at best - and didn;t seento be challenged satisfactorily. That is all I meant. The whole thrust of the defence was flimsy, but a good (and probably expensive!) lawyer ensured that just enough doubt was sown in the minds of those concerned with making the decision. That is the job of the defence lawyer; its up to the prosecution - or the judge if felt necessary - to deal with that.

I think Bob Viking's posts sum it up well.
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Old 21st Dec 2022, 18:42
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Originally Posted by Thoughtful_Flyer
There may be civil claims for damages but there cannot be a "civil prosecution". Very rarely there can be a "private prosecution" but not in this case. With very few exceptions, which wouldn't apply here, you cannot be prosecuted again having been found not guilty by a jury.
Thanks, Thoughtful Flyer. My error. A civil claim, of course.
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Old 21st Dec 2022, 18:58
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Does his defence of cognitive impairment not open the door for this "defence" to be trotted out for all sorts of (thinking RTC's) scenario's now? I can't imagine the relatives have some sense of "closure".......more a sense of injustice! His very skilled defence team won........doesn't mean it's the right verdict!
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Old 21st Dec 2022, 19:23
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Originally Posted by mopardave
Does his defence of cognitive impairment not open the door for this "defence" to be trotted out for all sorts of (thinking RTC's) scenario's now? I can't imagine the relatives have some sense of "closure".......more a sense of injustice! His very skilled defence team won........doesn't mean it's the right verdict!
It already happens. Similar "defences" have been used for years, transient physical or medical problems, one-off mechanical defects that can't be traced. It's all part of the legal game.
.
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Old 21st Dec 2022, 19:28
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Originally Posted by tucumseh
....As an engineer Iíd like to see a comprehensive Inquiry into why the pilot was given an aircraft that had no valid airworthiness or serviceability certification, and was not fit for purpose. Any engineer reading the AAIB report will tell you one thing. That aircraft should not have been flying. The state of the fuel pump diaphragm alone tells you that....
The report did open a can of worms on the maintenance of ageing aircraft. I haven't heard any details, I haven't looked, but I'd hope the CAA has been having a bit of a crack-down.
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Old 22nd Dec 2022, 04:40
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Originally Posted by DaveReidUK
Which of the alternative verdicts available to a Coroner do you think she should have delivered ?
Dave, I think 'open' is perhaps the obvious one, given her court being denied sufficient evidence. She was in a very difficult position, as she knew of the serious failings exposed by the AAIB. Her finding might initially please the bereaved, but they'll soon be frustrated. I'd hazard a guess the underlying failings have not been explained to them in any detail. A quirk of our legal system that allows the entire population to read the evidence, yet not allow it heard in court.

But discussing only the final act, in the face of accepted evidence the aircraft should not have flown, flies in the face of all proper investigative protocols and natural justice. As I said, the aims of the Inquest could not be met, therefore the entire process was tainted. I suppose she could have followed the lead of (for example) the previous NW Wales Coroner, by simply refusing to hold a mandatory Inquest. The Chief Coroner allowed that, so why not here? Politics I'm afraid.
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Old 22nd Dec 2022, 05:22
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The link may give those interested in UK pilot prosecution matters a bit of background.

https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/147637712.pdf
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