Families of Shoreham Airshow disaster victims pay tribute to lost loved ones

The inquest, which began on Wednesday seven years after the tragedy, continued on Friday.

Shoreham Airshow crash inquest
Shoreham Airshow crash inquest

The families of eight more victims of the Shoreham Airshow disaster have paid tearful tributes to their lost loved ones.

The inquest continued on Friday, more than seven years on from the disaster in August 2015 when a Hawker Hunter plane crashed into the A27 during an aerial display.

The pilot, Andrew Hill, was charged with 11 counts of manslaughter by gross negligence but found not guilty on all counts in March 2019.

Summaries of the victims’ post-mortem reports found two victims, Matthew Jones and Daniele Polito, would have died immediately from their injuries at the point of impact.

Pen portraits paying tribute to James Graham Mallinson, 72 and from Newick, Sussex, and Matthew Grimstone and Jacob Schilt, both aged 23 and from Brighton were read to the court on Wednesday.

On Friday morning the inquest continued with tributes to the remaining eight victims, beginning with Mark Trussler, 54 and from Worthing, and 53-year-old Mark Reeves from Seaford.

Shoreham Airshow crash inquest
(Top row left to right) Matthew Grimstone, Matt Jones, Mark Reeves, Tony Brightwell and Mark Trussler. (Bottom row left to right) Dylan Archer, Richard Smith, Graham Mallinson, Maurice Abrahams and Daniele Polito, who died in the Shoreham Airshow crash (Family handouts/PA)

Both men loved motorcycles and had ridden them to watch the airshow from the side of the A27.

Mark Trussler’s daughter Samantha said: “He loved riding his motorbike and a lot of my earliest memories were of us riding through the countryside together.

“He was a father, son, brother, uncle, partner and friend, and after he was taken he was made a grandad. He would have been the best grandad to my little girl.”

Mark Reeves’ sister Denise said: “He was my childhood – he was kind and protective and it never bothered him that I was the little sister tagging along.

“Mark asked our dad to go with him that day – he declined. To this day he regrets his decision, he always wonders if they would have been standing in a different spot that day.”

Julie Smith, mother of 26-year-old Richard Smith from Hove, said: “2015 will forever be the worst year of our lives.

“On the day Richard was killed he was riding to meet a friend and colleague for a bike ride into the South Downs – he didn’t know about the airshow. He often rode that route.

“Richard’s loss has devastated us beyond anyone could have imagined and we think of him constantly.”

Dylan Archer, 42 and from Brighton, was a friend of Richard Smith’s and they were riding to the South Downs together when the tragedy occurred.

A family statement read out by lawyer Sarah Stewart said: “This incident has taken a significant toll on our family. To lose someone so young is an unbelievable tragedy but to lose them in the way we did is impossible to comprehend.

“Dylan had a sweet and loving nature – he was kind and gentle, silly and fun.”

Shoreham Airshow crash inquest
Videograb of the moment before the aircrash during the Shoreham Airshow on August 22 2015 (Sussex Police/Crown Prosecution Office/PA)

A statement by the four eldest daughters of 76-year-old Maurice Abrahams from Brighton was read to the court and said: “11 lives were extinguished in a nanosecond through no fault of their own. The shock and upset left behind is as fresh today as it was then.”

The family of Anthony Brightwell, 53 and from Hove, submitted a written tribute which said: “Tony loved travelling and experiencing different cultures, languages and new foods.

“His love of aircraft and Second World War history was what brought him to Shoreham Airshow on that fateful day as he wanted to see one of the last flights of the Vulcan.”

A brief statement read out on behalf of the parents of 24-year-old Matthew Jones from Littlehampton simply said: “What changed that day? Everything.”

And the sisters of Daniele Polito, 23 and from Goring-by-Sea, shared a written statement with the court which said: “From birth Daniele had a charm no-one could resist and his cheeky smile lit up the room.

“He cared deeply about all of his family, especially his mum, and we all wish he had a little more time having departed at the very young age of 23.”

The inquest continues on Monday.

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