Hillsborough jury retires to consider verdict

The jury in the inquests into the deaths of 96 Liverpool fans at the 1989 Hillsborough disaster has retired to consider its verdicts, two years after the hearings began.

The seven women and three men of the jury retired to consider 14 key questions set out by the Coroner John Goldring, in a 33-page questionnaire, including determining if match commander David Duckenfield is responsible for the unlawful killing of the fans by gross negligence manslaughter.

The hearings into Britain’s worst sporting disaster first began on March 31 2014, with dozens of relatives of the 96 attending each of the more than 300 days the court has sat at Bridgewater Place at the town’s Birchwood Park business park.

On day 308 of the inquest hearings, now stretching across three years, Goldring concluded his summing-up of the evidence which he first began in January, before making his final remarks to the jury before it retired.

Across the courtroom dozens of relatives of the 96 listened in silence.

He told the jurors: “While I’m not inviting you to do so, if you want to be reminded of any piece of evidence you need only send a note to that effect.

“I want to thank you for the care with which I could see you listened to the summing-up and many of you, very diligently, have taken notes.”

The Hillsborough tragedy unfolded on April 15 1989 during Liverpool’s FA Cup tie against Nottingham Forest as thousands of fans were crushed on Sheffield Wednesday’s Leppings Lane terrace.

Mr Duckenfield gave the order at 2.52pm to open exit Gate C in Leppings Lane, allowing around 2,000 fans to flood into the already packed central pens behind the goal.

At the start of the inquests, the coroner said none of the victims should be blamed for their deaths.

The role and responsibility of Mr Duckenfield came under intense scrutiny.

The jury was then told of the final movements of each victim before hearing from medical experts and pathologists as to the circumstances of the deaths.

The 1991 verdicts from the original inquests were quashed following the 2012 Hillsborough Independent Panel report.

Goldring told the jurors they would have to resolve “conflicts” of evidence they have heard between what Liverpool fans said and the accounts of police officers critical of them.


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