Hillsborough Disaster Inquests Jury Retires

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Jurors in the Hillsborough inquests have retired to consider verdicts into the deaths of 96 Liverpool fans in the 1989 disaster.

The case has been running for just over two years and has heard evidence from more than 800 witnesses.

Members of the jury have to decide whether or not the 96 fans who died at the Hillsborough disaster in 1989 were unlawfully killed.

The coroner, Sir John Goldring, has given them 14 questions to answer as part of their deliberations; five of them relate to policing of the FA Cup semi-final match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.

Question six asks:  “Are you satisfied, so that you are sure, that those who died in the disaster were unlawfully killed?”

Sir John told the jurors in his summing up that they would have to be sure that David Duckenfield, the match commander on the day of the tragedy, was responsible for the manslaughter of the victims by gross negligence.

“When answering this question we are looking at Mr. Duckenfield”s conduct and his responsibility,” he said.

The inquests heard that the police officer gave an order to open an exit gate at the Leppings Lane end of the Sheffield stadium allowing hundreds of fans to enter already crowded pens. 

Mr Duckenfield told the inquests last year: “It is arguably one of the biggest regrets of my life that I did not foresee where fans would go when they came in through the gates.

“I was overcome by the enormity of the situation and the decisions I had to make and as a result of that – this is probably very hard to admit – as a result of that I was so overcome probably with emotion of us having got into that situation that my mind, for a moment, went blank.”

Jurors will also have to consider whether failings by Sheffield Wednesday FC or the behaviour of fans contributed to the “dangerous situation” at Hillsborough.

The response by South Yorkshire Ambulance Service will also come under scrutiny as part of the jury deliberations.

The original inquest verdict of accidental death was quashed in 2012 after evidence suggested that more lives might have been saved had the emergency response been more effective.