Hillsborough trial: Fans ‘failed by match chief’

David Duckenfield (left) and Graham Mackrell arrive at Preston Crown Court Image copyright PA
Image caption David Duckenfield (left) and Graham Mackrell arrive at Preston Crown Court

Match commander David Duckenfield’s “extraordinarily bad” failures contributed to the deaths of 96 football fans at Hillsborough, a court has heard.

The former chief superintendent, 74, denies the gross negligence manslaughter of 95 Liverpool supporters at the 1989 FA Cup semi-final.

Ex-Sheffield Wednesday club secretary Graham Mackrell, 69, is charged with safety offences.

The jury was sworn in earlier.

Opening the case at Preston Crown Court, prosecutor Richard Matthews QC told the court the youngest of the victims had been 10-year-old Jon-Paul Gilhooley.

Ninety-six people died as a result of a crush in pens at the Leppings Lane end of the ground.

Of those, Mr Matthews said, 94 died on the same day.

‘Appalling loss of life’

Lee Nicol, 14, died two days later and Tony Bland, who suffered “terrible brain damage” was in a permanent vegetative state until his death in March 1993, jurors heard.

Under the law at the time, there can be no prosecution for the death of the 96th victim, Tony Bland, as he died more than a year and a day after his injuries were caused.

“Each of the 96 was a Liverpool FC supporter who had travelled to Sheffield to enjoy the ticket-only FA Cup semi-final,” Mr Matthews said.

“Each was an individual who formed part of what was the anticipated 50,000 crowd of spectators, whose attendance, entry and accommodation at the Hillsborough Stadium should have been properly planned for and safely facilitated.

“Each died as a result of the extraordinarily bad failures by David Duckenfield in the care he took to discharge his personal responsibility on that fateful day.”

“Much about the Hillsborough disaster was extraordinary, not least the appalling scale of the loss of life, the scale of tragedy and the scale of those who failed to discharge their responsibilities with appropriate care,” Mr Matthews said.

“Each of those who died did so as a result of “the wholly innocent activity of attending a football match”, Mr Matthews said, and as a consequence of the “obvious and serious risk to life” posed by crushing from poor management of the expected capacity crowd.

Image caption The 96 people who lost their lives in the Hillsborough disaster

Former South Yorkshire Police chief superintendent Mr Duckenfield, from Bournemouth, was the police officer in charge at the match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest on 15 April 1989.

Jurors were selected from a panel of 29.

On Monday, Judge Sir Peter Openshaw told 100 potential jurors the trial could last up to four months and warned them not to research the disaster on the internet.

They were asked if they recognised either defendant and to fill out a form asking if close family members or friends had ever worked for any criminal justice agency.

After completing the questionnaires, 68 panel members were excused from serving on the jury.


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