'Extraordinarily Bad Failures Contributed Substantially to the Deaths of the 96' Prosecution Sets out Case against Duckenfield as Former Police Chief's Trial for Manslaughter Begins Hillsborough: THE TRIAL Day ? Please DO NOT Comment on the Case on Social Media, to Avoid Prejudicing the Trial

Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England), January 16, 2019 | Go to article overview

'Extraordinarily Bad Failures Contributed Substantially to the Deaths of the 96' Prosecution Sets out Case against Duckenfield as Former Police Chief's Trial for Manslaughter Begins Hillsborough: THE TRIAL Day ? Please DO NOT Comment on the Case on Social Media, to Avoid Prejudicing the Trial


Byline: JOE THOMAS Crime Reporter joe.thomas@trinitymirror.com @joe_thomas18

THE "extraordinarily bad failures" of police match commander David Duckenfield were "a substantial cause" of the Hillsborough tragedy, a court was told.

Jurors heard claims the 74-year-old "grossly failed to discharge his personal responsibility" to the 96 Liverpool FC fans who died as a result of the 1989 disaster.

The allegation came at the beginning of the trial of Duckenfield and former Sheffield Wednesday FC secretary Graham Mackrell.

Opening the case just after midday yesterday, Richard Matthews, QC, set out the prosecution argument against both defendants.

Starting with Duckenfield, who faces a single count of manslaughter by gross negligence in connection to 95 of those who died in the tragedy, he 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 added: "David Duckenfield was the very senior police officer, a chief superintendent of South Yorkshire Police, who had the role of match commander.

"With that role came not just ultimate responsibility for the police operation on the 15th April to secure the safe arrival, entry and accommodation of those 50,000 fans at the Hillsborough stadium, but personal responsibility to take reasonable care for the arrangements that were put in place, to take reasonable care in the command of those beneath him and to take reasonable care in the orders he gave and decisions he took.

"It is the prosecution's case that David Duckenfield's failures to discharge this personal responsibility were extraordinarily bad and contributed substantially to the deaths of each of those 96 people who so tragically and unnecessarily lost their lives."

Duckenfield failed to quickly declare a major incident or enact emergency measures to free trapped supporters as the disaster unfolded, the jury was also told.

Mr Matthews continued: "It is the prosecution's case that each of those who died did so as a result of participation in the wholly innocent activity of attending a football match as a spectator on the 15th April 1989; each died as a consequence of the obvious and serious risk to life posed by crushing from poor management of the expected capacity crowd seeking admission to watch the match; and 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."

Court One at Preston Crown Court heard Duckenfield, who denies the allegation against him, is not charged with the death of the 96th fan to pass away, Tony Bland.

Laws at the time prevented prosecution for manslaughter over the death of someone more than 366 days after being injured. Mr Bland died in 1993.

A jury of 14 were selected through random ballot from a panel of 29 on Tuesday morning. Of the seven men and seven women, two will be excused by judge Sir Peter Openshaw after the initial proceedings.

They were also introduced to the case against Mackrell.

The 69-year-old is accused of an offence involving the stadium's safety certificate and a health and safety allegation.

He denies both accusations.

It was claimed he neglected his duty as club safety officer by failing to agree, with police, the methods of entry to the stadium for the Liverpool FC fans.

Mr Matthews alleged Mackrell, at the very least, turned a "blind eye" to that responsibility, which was set out in the ground's safety certificate.

It is also alleged Mackrell "failed to take reasonable care as the club's safety officer for the health and safety of those affected by how he carried out that job".

This concerned admission arrangements, including that the turnstile operation could allow fans to enter the ground without causing crowds to gather outside, as well having a backup plan should such crowds gather. …

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'Extraordinarily Bad Failures Contributed Substantially to the Deaths of the 96' Prosecution Sets out Case against Duckenfield as Former Police Chief's Trial for Manslaughter Begins Hillsborough: THE TRIAL Day ? Please DO NOT Comment on the Case on Social Media, to Avoid Prejudicing the Trial
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