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bentwaters81tfw

Andy Hill cleared of Manslaughter.

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I would just like to remind everyone that this topic must remain civil to stay open.  Please bear in mind that the court had all the information to hand, and we have to trust that they made the right decision as we'll never know everything.  I've got mixed feelings on the outcome, but I'll keep my own counsel on that, and I'd suggest people exercise self-control if they feel it's the wrong decision.  You can't get away with saying whatever you like on the internet these days, as it can have very serious legal ramifications.

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Very wise Mike. I think we all have our opinions, whilst wishing to think the best of all aircrew some things can be quite 'challenging' to accept but, as you say, we didn't hear the evidence from both sides and we have to trust the legal process.

Simon

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Bearing in mind what Mike has said about slander on the Internet....

 

This seems a very odd verdict. I'll leave it at that. 

 

Chris. 

 

 

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I can't say I've been following the case very closely but I spent over 40 years practising criminal law and I very quickly gave up trying to second-guess jury decisions. One problem is that the Contempt of Court Act 1981 makes it an offence "to obtain, disclose or solicit any particulars of statements made, opinions expressed, arguments advanced or votes cast by members of a jury in the course of their deliberations in any legal proceedings". It's obviously right that the general public and the press shouldn't have access to details of a jury's deliberations but the Act also has the effect of preventing even the most blue-chip academic research into jury decision making. It doesn't matter if you are the most distinguished emeritus professor of law at Oxbridge with an internationally recognised research pedigree, you cannot ask jury members how they went about reaching their decision, whether they understood the judge's directions, what factors influenced them, what they might have found it helpful to know or anything else. Unless and until that is changed and proper research into jury decision-making is allowed there will always be cases where the verdict looks odd.

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I would concur with all that Skodadriver says above.  My experience with juries ended a couple of decades ago when I saw the light and left the dark side to work on civil cases.  Mind you some judges can be just as hard to fathom at times.

 

One thing I will say is that I have conducted cases in court and read about them next day in the papers including reportage on what I said in court only to wonder if we were all there in the same court on the same day.  For the football fans among you think sports reporting and the match you watched.

 

All the same the courts do tend to get it right most of the time and I would not second guess any decision reached in this case or any other unless I had sat through it and heard and seen everything - not being spoon fed the sensational bits through the filtering of the press who are trying to sell tomorrows newspaper after all.  You cant come to a view on a witness without seeing and assessing them in the witness box.  You read what was said and it maybe it looks good on paper but the witness might have just come across badly in court on the day and you just don't believe it.  I have seen witnesses say all the right things yet I didn't believe a word of it.  You do really have to be there.  

 

Regardless of the outcome too many lives were lost and destroyed by the accident.  There were no winners here.  Hopefully lessons are learned and action taken to prevent any repeat  while still permitting the safe enjoyment of airshows in the future.

 

 

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Posted (edited)

I very much fear this verdict could be part of something which will significantly affect all display flying and public demonstration aerobatics in the UK in future.

 

Look at the quite understandable comment from one of the relatives of a victim, essentially asking why any aerobatics should be permitted (over land) if 'cognitive impairment' can happen so readily to any pilot.  Given that was an essential part of the defence case, that is a hard question to answer/refute formally, so to speak.  As an occasional aerobatic pilot I know what my informal answer would be, but the question is what may 'authority' do?

 

This was about 'gross negligence' and that is very hard to prove beyond reasonable doubt (I believe there is a more recent threshold description that that).  Further actions, the inquest and /or any enquiry may ask different questions and reach conclusions which will affect all of us interested in flying, aerobatics or airshows. 

Part of my concern is that the CAA and others may feel inclined to take pre-emptive action to deflect the likely focus on their involvement in all this.  As with most accidents and incidents, arguably a chain of events - failures, oversights or mistakes - led to this.  That will be the focus,and the results may be awkward for future airshow operations.

 

John T's last paragraph is absolutely right,  sadly I am less optimistic than he is!

Edited by John B (Sc)

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A lot of wise words about the case itself and juries. The rest of us have to rely on the media for our information. Sadly I saw plenty published about the prosecution case but am struggling to recall anything significant about the defence case. So no way to form a balanced view.

 

Sadly like John B I don’t feel very optimistic about the air show scene in the U.K. 

 

 

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Posted (edited)

From the BBC news pages

Mr Hill, from Sandon, near Buntingford, Hertfordshire, was also formally acquitted of a count - that was not put in front of the jury- of negligently or recklessly endangering the safety of an aircraft.

 

 

 

1 hour ago, JohnT said:

I have conducted cases in court

 "that was not put in front of the jury ?"  Why was that ?

You'll know

 Cognitive impairment ? He's had enough medicals .

Cognitive impairment  is a condition in which someone has minor problems with cognition – their mental abilities such as memory or thinking. These difficulties are worse than would normally be expected for a healthy person of their age

 

Edited by bzn20

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I was at Shoreham and saw the crash, and although I am no expert the manoeuvre looked fine to me, although the Hunter appeared to do a bunt on the way down from the loop. The map in the Daily Fail article is entirely wrong - the Hunter flew in from the south over the coast - not from the north as indicated. I guess that it was doing about 400 knots along the runway line when it pulled up into the loop.

 

I too saw no defence evidence in the press - only the glaring headlines of the prosecution case.  

 

I am sure that Mr Hill will live with his accident and the deaths it caused for the rest of his life, and may not fly again. Nor do I think that there will be anymore airshows at Shoreham, not only due to the new CAA regulations but the fact that it is planned to build an IKEA in  the area that the Hunter crashed.

 

John

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Posted (edited)

I have to say I agree with the verdict. The basis of prosecution was that he acted in a dangerous and cavalier manner. 

 

This doesn't fit with the character of the man whose nickname in the RAF and BA was ' The Prof '. So presumably the Jury had to weigh this up. 

 

While it's understandable the people feel he should be punished. It was a mistake not a deliberate act or an attempt to show off. The cognitive impairment defence is perfectly possible. bzn20 suggests it would be picked up in his medicals. I have to say having had the same medical on an annual basis for years that this would not have been picked up. It's not even looked for. 

 

It's a tragedy for all concerned. All the survivors have a life sentence including Andy Hill. 

 

No winners. 

 

 

Edited by noelh

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If cognitive impairment becomes accepted as a potential problem when flying aerobatics then there will need to be research into ways of predicting who is more susceptible to it and signs of it's onset.

 

When I first heard about the intended prosecution I wondered about the advisability of it and the likelihood of conviction, simply because only very competent, experienced pilots are allowed to fly vintage fast jets.  Mistakes may be made but I'd be surprised if the deliberately reckless are allowed anywhere near them.

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1 hour ago, bzn20 said:

From the BBC news pages

Mr Hill, from Sandon, near Buntingford, Hertfordshire, was also formally acquitted of a count - that was not put in front of the jury- of negligently or recklessly endangering the safety of an aircraft.

 

 

 

 "that was not put in front of the jury ?"  Why was that ?

You'll know

 

 

Its English procedure and we are different "up North" but I think its a safe bet to say that translates as once the Judge looked at the prosecution case he was able to safely conclude that there was not enough evidence in the Crown case for there ever to be a guilty verdict and as such the Judge did not allow those charges to go ahead.  An alternative is that someone on the prosecution team thought exactly the same and made the call to drop the charge.  

 

In Scotland the defence can make a motion at the end of the Crown case of "no case to answer".

 

Its a few decades since I was current in that stuff but I suspect t hasn't changed much.

 

All cases where there is a prosecution for a death or injury caused by negligence are tricky.  So much so its difficult in emotive cases to get lay people to understand how a tragic case can come about through error which, while blameworthy, is not necessarily so dreadfully bad that the error amounts to criminal as opposed to civil or ordinary negligence.  There will be clear cases at both ends of the spectrum but always gray areas in the middle.  

 

In the area of motor vehicles drivers can be careless and cause a fatality through perhaps the most minor of errors of judgement yet in another scenario wantonly reckless and the resulting accident is one everyone walks away from.  Should the former driver go to jail  and the latter escape prison?  I mention just to highlight the issues can be clouded by the natural distress and emotion of relatives of the deceased and others.  The sad fact is a prosecution never brings anyone back to life.   

 

 

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I fear the end of airshows is nigh sad to say. With Farnborough not having public days anymore what next...?

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4 hours ago, bzn20 said:

Cognitive impairment  is a condition in which someone has minor problems with cognition – their mental abilities such as memory or thinking.

You rang? :drunk:

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2 hours ago, Paul J said:

I fear the end of airshows is nigh sad to say. With Farnborough not having public days anymore what next...?

What??? Do you mean to say that the Public have now been locked out of the traditional weekend flying displays? If this is true that’s truly absurd. And here’s me planning for a return (one year) to one of the world’s most premier air shows! 

 

Cheers.. Dave 

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Farnborough was always a trade show with a public face. Ever since the decline of the British aviation industry it has been inevitably in a parallel decline.  I suspect air shows will continue but that the emphasis will be on bigger shows in selected locations and which are heavily controlled and regulated. Smaller shows are more likely to disappear at a guess. 

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16 minutes ago, Rabbit Leader said:

What??? Do you mean to say that the Public have now been locked out of the traditional weekend flying displays? If this is true that’s truly absurd. And here’s me planning for a return (one year) to one of the world’s most premier air shows! 

 

Cheers.. Dave 

Since the accident aeroplanes have been restricted to doing just fly-pasts at shows just on land.

However, some like Portrush and Newcastle, County Down, have the display over water, thus they are not restricted. I believe there are a small number of airshows in Britain which have the display over a sea bay.

In our two airshows we also get a RNLI display as well. Both places have deep-water RNLI lifeboats which are on stand-by during the show. At some time they do a practise with a coast guard helicopter so we get a display of their professionalism  :thumbsup:

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23 minutes ago, Rabbit Leader said:

If this is true

It's true... Crowds have been falling (because this isn't exciting enough ?cost ? ) , Shoreham aftermath insurance hike , increased security problem and funding that and maybe ……………… Farnborough have been waiting to shut down what is after all , a trade show. The Seaside display's rely on loads of staff holding donation bins all over the seafront ,that was  Lowestoft anyway , that's gone.

Gt Yarmouth jumped in for the first time (that  I know of) thought they'd trump Lowestoft because it's their default , we are Gt Yarmouth . They got 180,000 to turn up park and eat … having been talked in to what was apparently a Del Boy " He who dares wins " and "Everyone's a winner Rodders" subsequently lost £500,000 . How can you sell tickets to or stop people  along miles of road and  beach who can just watch it all for free ? Parking was a carve up too .

Same thing that killed Lowestoft in the end . We used to get the Reds over our house so low , brilliant . So Yarmouth caught a cold and not it's not coming back .

Clacton is still having one in August although Jaywick's residents are well used to a 24/7 air display but that's down to White Lightning and Jamaican roll ups .

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7 hours ago, Skodadriver said:

I can't say I've been following the case very closely but I spent over 40 years practising criminal law and I very quickly gave up trying to second-guess jury decisions. One problem is that the Contempt of Court Act 1981 makes it an offence "to obtain, disclose or solicit any particulars of statements made, opinions expressed, arguments advanced or votes cast by members of a jury in the course of their deliberations in any legal proceedings". It's obviously right that the general public and the press shouldn't have access to details of a jury's deliberations but the Act also has the effect of preventing even the most blue-chip academic research into jury decision making. It doesn't matter if you are the most distinguished emeritus professor of law at Oxbridge with an internationally recognised research pedigree, you cannot ask jury members how they went about reaching their decision, whether they understood the judge's directions, what factors influenced them, what they might have found it helpful to know or anything else. Unless and until that is changed and proper research into jury decision-making is allowed there will always be cases where the verdict looks odd.

I spent 23 years in prosecuting Customs offenders - and VAT ones, too, and I can honestly say that all the cases I was involved the Jury got the verdict I thought they would arrive at, except in one or two cases. And in those I suspect that there was an element of sympathy for the defendant, rather than on the facts.

 

I might be lucky in that the offences were mostly fairly straightfdorward - were the drugs in the possession of the defendant, if so what was his/her explanation, etc., but the VAT ones could be mind numbingly complex, but the juries got there .

 

I found - and I'm guessing you were in the Scottish courts, rather than the English Courts as I was, that judges are a damn sight more "odd" than juries.

 

 

 

 

 

I'll agree with you that there are some very odd jury decisions.- I have seen some where I thought

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30 minutes ago, bzn20 said:

. . .

Gt Yarmouth jumped in for the first time (that  I know of) thought they'd trump Lowestoft because it's their default , we are Gt Yarmouth . They got 180,000 to turn up park and eat … having been talked in to what was apparently a Del Boy " He who dares wins " and "Everyone's a winner Rodders" subsequently lost £500,000 . How can you sell tickets to or stop people  along miles of road and  beach who can just watch it all for free ? Parking was a carve up too .

Here, the money is raised via corporate sponsorship, sales of the programme, sales of trade pitches and general town council rates subsidy. Both towns are major holiday towns so the shop keepers/food places rely on the foot-fall of holidayers. Its optional to buy a programme, it about £5. I buy one to support the show. Other than that no member of the viewing public pays anything [except regular car-parking charges, and even most of those are suspended] to watch the show.

Everything here has smaller numbers but Portrush claims about 150,000 people over two days and Newcastle about 80,000 for one day show.

Portrush is also the home of the NW200 motorcycle road races and they get about 250,000 over a 9 to 10 day period. Just a comparison 

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25 minutes ago, Whofan said:

.....

I found - and I'm guessing you were in the Scottish courts, rather than the English Courts as I was, that judges are a damn sight more "odd" than juries.

 

Having sat on the bench myself, albeit part-time and at a relatively junior level, I couldn't possibly comment ........

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From reading around the issue. The problem is not so much this particular accident but the way display authorisations were issued. The suggestion is perhaps that low level aerobatics from swept wing jets really should have been handled better. Andy Hill fulfilled the requirements. He was a fast jet pilot, he had forty hours on Hunters, which is nothing. Was he current? For a pilot recency is everything. Even for the best you have to practice. I know myself the first couple of flights after a break was ropey. It is not like driving a car or a bicycle. 

 

The Red Arrows know this. Practice, practice, practice. 

 

Every accident follows the Swiss cheese model. In this case the holes lined up. Andy Hill and the victims were in the sights. 

 

The CAA or the 'Campaign Against Aviation' have questions to answer. 

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Posted (edited)
On 3/8/2019 at 7:49 AM, Skodadriver said:

I can't say I've been following the case very closely but I spent over 40 years practising criminal law and I very quickly gave up trying to second-guess jury decisions. 

It doesn't matter if you are the most distinguished emeritus professor of law at Oxbridge with an internationally recognised research pedigree, you cannot ask jury members how they went about reaching their decision, whether they understood the judge's directions, what factors influenced them, what they might have found it helpful to know or anything else. Unless and until that is changed and proper research into jury decision-making is allowed there will always be cases where the verdict looks odd.

Speaking from the "other side of the jury room door" there is normally an exceptionally serious demenour evident. All jurors seem to put on a "more serious hat" and be determined to get it right.

I've been on several juries and once a foreman, and have seen the same thing each and every time. 

 

Of critical importance is to present the evidence in a manner in which a lay-person can understand, which is something quite challenging in an aviation environment, as this case was.

We can only accept the decision they returned.

 

21 hours ago, noelh said:

The CAA or the 'Campaign Against Aviation' have questions to answer. 

Not the regular word used when dealing with those people...

EDIT: Some alternatives can be "Cretins" or "Completely", for example...

Edited by hairystick

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