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Plane crash victim's death was misadventure, inquest jury rules

PUBLISHED: 18:53 01 May 2018 | UPDATED: 09:58 02 May 2018

Benjamin Marshall who died in a plane crash in Topcroft. Picture: Leicester Mercury

Benjamin Marshall who died in a plane crash in Topcroft. Picture: Leicester Mercury

Northcliffe Media Ltd.

A jury has ruled the death of a retired farmer who was killed after a birthday treat flight in a vintage plane was the result of misadventure.

East Anglian air ambulnace attends the scene of the crash in the village of Topcroft in Norfolk in 2016 (Picture: Rob Colman/Archant)East Anglian air ambulnace attends the scene of the crash in the village of Topcroft in Norfolk in 2016 (Picture: Rob Colman/Archant)

The conclusion came at the end of the second day of the inquest in Norwich into the death of Benjamin Marshall, who died after a P-51 D Mustang hit a tree at Hardwick Airfield near Bungay on October 2, 2016.

Mr Marshall suffered severe traumatic head and neck injuries in the crash which caused his death. The Mustang’s pilot and owner, Maurice Hammond, suffered a broken neck, ribs and shoulder, but survived.

He broke down following the conclusion of proceedings in the coroner’s court.

A spokesman for Mr Hammond said: “We’d like to thank the coroner, and the AAIB for their diligent and professional work on this matter. We remain indebted to all the emergency services for their outstanding response and service.

The Mustang'’s pilot and owner, Maurice Hammond, suffered a broken neck, ribs and shoulder, but survived. Photo: Nik ColemanThe Mustang'’s pilot and owner, Maurice Hammond, suffered a broken neck, ribs and shoulder, but survived. Photo: Nik Coleman

He added: “We’d also like to thank the media for their respect for the families privacy in the last 18 months.’’

In their verdict, the jury said: “On October 2, 2016, Mr Marshall died of injuries sustained when he was a passenger in an aircraft, which crashed into a field off Denton Road, Topcroft, Bungay.

“The aircraft appeared to be affected by a crosswind on approach to landing.

“The evidence presented shows that the pilot did not appear to attempt to compensate for the crosswind. As a result, the aircraft landed over to the left of the centre of the runway, bumped twice and the pilot then attempted to gain height in order to go around. The throttle was used in an attempt to gain power and the pilot raised the flaps slightly. He did not raise the landing gear.

“It appears that an increased throttle contributed to pushing the aircraft further to its left and raising the flaps decreased the lift, hindering the pilot’s attempts to gain height. The aircraft left the runway onto a field, hitting a large tree, where a fire/explosion occurred. The left wing sheared off and the aircraft carried forward onto another field where the propeller separated from the fuselage. The aircraft came to rest with the right side landing gear holding the nose up. The pilot suffered severe injuries and Mr Marshall was killed outright.”

Mr Marshall’s family did not want to comment at the end of the inquest.

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