The jury in the trial of Hillsborough match commander David Duckenfield has retired to consider its verdicts.
The seven women and three men on the jury were sent out at Preston Crown Court on Monday after hearing more than six weeks of evidence in the case.
The retired chief superintendent, 75, denies the gross negligence manslaughter of 95 Liverpool supporters at the FA Cup semi-final on April 15 1989.
Ninety-six men, women and children died following the crush on the terrace but, 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 the disaster.
The court has heard Duckenfield ordered exit gates to the stadium be opened after crowds built up outside the turnstiles, allowing fans to head through exit gate C and down the tunnel to the central pens where the fatal crush happened.
Richard Matthews QC, prosecuting, said the match commander’s personal responsibility lay at “the heart” of the case.
But, Benjamin Myers QC, defending, said the former South Yorkshire Police officer had become a “target of blame” and the prosecution was unfair.
The jury were warned by judge Peter Openshaw to put aside the emotion as they considered the case.
He said: “The deaths of 96 spectators, many of whom were very young, is, of course, a profound human tragedy attended by much anguish and anger which for many has not passed with time.
“But, as both counsel have advised you and I will now direct you, as you go about your duty you must put aside your emotions and sympathies, either for the bereaved families or indeed for Mr Duckenfield, and decide the case with a cold, calm and dispassionate review of the evidence that you have heard in court.”
Duckenfield stood trial in January but the jury was discharged after failing to reach a verdict.
Hillsborough trial jury must answer five questions
The jury in the trial of Hillsborough match commander David Duckenfield has been told it must answer five questions when considering whether the retired officer is guilty of the gross negligence manslaughter of 95 Liverpool fans at the 1989 FA Cup semi-final.
Judge Peter Openshaw, sitting at Preston Crown Court, set out directions of law for jurors to follow before they were sent out to consider their verdict.
1) Are you sure the defendant David Duckenfield owed a duty of care to the spectators attending the match?
The court heard Benjamin Myers QC, defending Duckenfield, accepted the 75-year-old had owed a duty of care in law to the spectators attending the match to take reasonable care for their safety.
2) Are you sure that the defendant was in breach of his duty of care?
Judge Openshaw said the prosecution alleged Duckenfield had breached his duty of care by failing to:
a) identify potential confining points and hazards to the safe entry of spectators;
b) monitor and assess the number and situation of spectators yet to enter the stadium from Leppings Lane;
c) take action, in good time, to relieve crowding pressures on fans seeking entry to the stadium from Leppings Lane;
d) monitor and assess the number and situation of supporters in pens three and four of the Leppings Lane terrace;
e) prevent crushing to fans in pens three and four by the flow of spectators through the central tunnel.
Jurors were told in order to find the defendant guilty they would all need to be satisfied he was in breach of his duty in at least one of the ways alleged and to agree on which of the breaches were proved.
3) Are you sure it was reasonably foreseeable that the defendant’s breach – or breaches – of duty would cause a serious and obvious risk of death to spectators by crushing?
Judge Openshaw told jurors they must be sure what Duckenfield did or did not do caused a reasonably foreseeable, serious and obvious risk of death to the spectators.
He said: “What was ‘reasonably foreseeable’ is a matter of fact and degree for you, the jury, to decide in the light of all the relevant circumstances as you find them to be.”
4) Are you sure his breach – or breaches – of that duty of care caused, or at least substantially contributed, to the deaths?
The jury was told the prosecution did not have to prove Duckenfield’s breach was the only cause of the deaths, or the main cause, but that it was at least one of the substantial contributory causes.
5) Are you sure that his breach – or breaches – of duty amounted to gross negligence?
Judge Openshaw said: “For negligence to be found to be ‘gross’, it must be, having regard to the foreseeable risk of death, so truly and exceptionally bad, so blameworthy, so reprehensible and so deserving of punishment, that it deserves to be marked by conviction of the serious crime of manslaughter.”