Hillsborough trial: David Duckenfield not guilty of gross negligence manslaughter of 95 Liverpool fans
Hillsborough match commander David Duckenfield was found not guilty of 95 Liverpool fans’ gross negligence manslaughter who died at the 1989 FA Cup semi-final.
The seven women and three men over the jury at Preston Crown Court returned the verdict after a trial that lasted.
The prosecution in the event declared Duckenfield, 75, had a”personal responsibility” for what happened in the game between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest on April 15 1989, where 96 men, women and children, were fatally injured in a crush on the Leppings Lane terrace.
Under the law at that time, he was not charged over the death of their victim because he died more than a year and a day.
Duckenfield stood trial this season after failing to reach a verdict, however, the jury had been discharged and a retrial has been ordered.
The court heard the chief superintendent ordered the launch of exit gates at the Leppings Lane end of the ground at 2.52pm, eight minutes prior to kick-off, after the region out the turnstiles became dangerously overcrowded.
Over 2,000 fans entered through exit once it was started and several headed to the tube before them, that led to the fundamental pencils where the smash happened.
As the court discovered he was struggling with post-traumatic anxiety disorder duckenfield didn’t give evidence.
Judge Sir Peter Openshaw told jurors the condition could explain the lack of reaction of Duckenfield as he sat at the well of the courtroom.
He said:”He has a resilient, passive and expressionless external demonstration which provides no hint of his frame of mind so don’t draw an adverse inference against him”
The courtroom was played with audio of the leader superintendent giving signs to inquests at 2015.
At the hearings, he accepted he must have taken measures to shut the tube into the pens after purchasing the gate’s opening.
Benjamin Myers QC, protecting Duckenfield, informed the jury he had been a”target of attribute” for the tragedy.
He informed the court:”We state David Duckenfield didn’t that which he was expected to do match commander. He did not breach his duty, he did what he had been expected to do in difficult circumstances.”
Summing up the scenario, the judge stated:”The deaths of 96 audiences, many of whom were quite young, is, needless to say, a profound human tragedy attended much anguish and anger which for many hasn’t passed with time.
“However, as both counsel have informed you and I can now direct you, as you go about your duty you need to put aside your emotions and sympathies, either for the bereaved households or indeed for Mr Duckenfield, also also decide the situation having a cold, calm and dispassionate review of the evidence that you have heard in court.”
In a press conference, the chair of the Hillsborough Family Support Group Margaret Aspinall, whose 18-year-old son James died, said the verdict had been an”absolutely bloody disgrace”.
She stated:”How can 96 be unlawfully killed and no-one be accountable? Please provide us the response who unlawfully killed my son. What we’ve got to try and do is to change a strategy in this country that is wrong.
“Because if that can occur to 96, what could happen to individuals who are fighting by themselves? They will have no chance, if that’s occurred to us. Things will need to change.”
Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson said:”Today’s result is a massive disappointment for those families, the natives and for those trying to come to terms with the tragedy that unfolded at Hillsborough on 15 April 1989.”
The commander of Operation Resolve, Assistant Commissioner Rob Beckley, defended the multi-million-pound cost of the prosecution.
He said:”For those who were affected [by Hillsborough] some cost is appropriate and that’s what we’ve always got to remember.
“There are many people: the victims, the victims families as well as the tens of thousands of individuals who’ve been affected. It’s for them that it’s right that we try and bottom this matter out.”
69, former Sheffield Wednesday club secretary Graham Mackrell, stood trial at January alongside Duckenfield and was found guilty of a safety and health offence for failing to ensure there were enough turnstiles to prevent unduly large audiences building up beyond the ground.
He had been detained #6,500 and arranged to pay #5,000.