Family’s pain at losing son after Hillsborough disaster

Tony Bland who died following the Hillsborough disaster which occurred on 15 April 1989 Pic: ''rossparry.co.uk
Tony Bland who died following the Hillsborough disaster which occurred on 15 April 1989 Pic: ''rossparry.co.uk
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A football fan left in a coma after the Hillsborough disaster and who died four years later has been remembered at the inquests.

Allan and Barbara Bland paid tribute to their son Tony, who they described as ‘pleasant and well liked’ at the inquests into the 96 Liverpool FC fans crushed to death at Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough Stadium in 1989.

Although 18-year-old Tony survived the initial crush, he suffered severe brain damage. After being in a coma for nearly four years, he became the disaster’s final victim in 1993, aged 22.

In a statement read to his inquest yesterday, his parents said: “The young man we knew lost his life on Saturday, April 15, 1989, and died in hospital four years later.”

They said paper mill employee Tony sold scratch cards for Liverpool FC.

The jury also heard from the relatives of an uncle and his nephew who died.

David Hawley, aged 39, went to the match with his nephew Stephen O’Neill, 17.

David’s daughter Leanne Hawley was just one when her dad died.

She said: “I know my dad was a wonderful father, much-loved husband, kind and thoughtful uncle and sincere friend. How I wish I could have known him for myself. How different our lives could have been. He was a great man.”

Patricia and Kevin O’Neill said, like his dad, Stephen was an avid Liverpool fan and had a pair of football boots on his pram instead of a teddy.

Miss Hawley said: “My dad and Stephen’s loss has left a huge void in our family.”

Tributes were also paid to James Hennessy, James Delaney, Kester Ball, Carl Lewis, Alan Johnston, Brian Matthews and Gordon Horn.

The inquests continue.