Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Hillsborough Police Chief 'Failed Fans', Court Is Told

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Hillsborough Police Chief 'Failed Fans', Court Is Told

Article excerpt


THE "extraordinarily bad" failings of Hillsborough match commander David Duckenfield caused the deaths of 96 "wholly innocent" Liverpool fans, his trial has heard.

Former South Yorkshire Police chief superintendent Duckenfield failed to quickly declare a major incident or enact emergency measures to free trapped supporters as the disaster unfolded, Preston Crown Court was told on Tuesday.

The 74-year-old, of Bournemouth, denies the gross negligence manslaughter of 95 of the Liverpool supporters at the 1989 FA Cup semi-final.

Richard Matthews QC, prosecuting, said there may have been "an extraordinary series of collective and personal failures" by many - if not all - of those planning and managing the match against Nottingham Forest.

But, he said, Duckenfield had the "ultimate responsibility" - as match commander - to those who died as a result of "the wholly innocent activity of attending a football match as a spectator".

"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," Mr Matthews said, opening his case.

He said 94 of the 96 succumbed to their injuries on the fateful day, while 14-year-old Lee Nicol died two days later and Tony Bland suffered "terrible brain damage" and was in a permanent vegetative state until March 1993 when died.

Because of the law at the time of the tragedy, there can be no prosecution for Mr Bland's death as he died more than a year and a day after his injuries were caused.

Mr Matthews said: "Sadly, there were also many collective and individual failures once the disaster unfolded. Not least the failure of anyone in a position to do so, Mr Duckenfield included, to declare the situation a major incident in good time, to put in place emergency measures to release those trapped and to organise and provide emergency medical attention, particularly attempts at resuscitation. …

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