Father repeatedly called out for son as both died in Hillsborough disaster

Thomas Howard Sr and his son Thomas Howard Jr were both killed in the Hillsborough disaster. Picture courtesy of the Liverpool Echo.
Thomas Howard Sr and his son Thomas Howard Jr were both killed in the Hillsborough disaster. Picture courtesy of the Liverpool Echo.
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A 14-year-old boy held his father’s jacket as they were caught in the crushing on the Hillsborough terraces that took both their lives.

The new inquests into the 1989 disaster that resulted in the deaths of 96 Liverpool supporters heard evidence about the deaths of Thomas Howard Sr, 34, and his son Thomas Jr.

The court heard the pair had got the ground early for the FA Cup semi-final so Thomas Jr would have a good view but were caught up in the large crowd outside the turnstiles.

Footage was shown of the pair entering the ground at 2.52pm as Exit Gate C was opened.

A clip from Pen Three on the Leppings Lane terrace showed the pair together at 2.56pm, with Tommy Jnr’s hand holding onto Tommy Snr’s jacket.

David Lackey, a Liverpool supporter who saw Thomas Sr on the terraces a few minutes later after a crowd surge said Mr Howard was repeatedly saying ‘My son, my son’.

In a statement he said: “I didn’t know what to do. I said ‘Drag him up’ and he said that he couldn’t.”

Mr Lackey told the court: “I knew he couldn’t. There was nothing else I could say. Nothing else I could do.”

He said Thomas Sr’s face turned yellow and his head slumped forward.

The court also heard from police officer Graham Butler, who attempted to resuscitate Thomas Jr after seeing on the pitch next to a number of other bodies.

Mr Butler said he saw ‘a glimpse of what I thought was life’ and thought he saw the boy’s eyes flicker.

“I thought there was a chance he might survive, so I picked him up,” he said.

With the help of two supporters he ran with Thomas Jr towards the stadium gym.

He said he took him towards an ambulance but someone there told him Thomas was dead.

Mr Butler then went to the gym, where Tommy Jr was assessed.

He said: “I thought they were going to help him in there, but they said ‘no, he’s dead, he’s body number one’.”

“I fully expected that ambulances would be waiting to take all those casualties and they weren’t.”

Mr Butler said he stayed with Thomas Jr until the early hours.

He said: “I was getting frustrated, because nobody was claiming him,

“I thought, where’s this little boy’s... little knowing his father was in there as well.”

Mr Butler said he was ‘really distressed’ by the unfolding disaster.

A statement was read to the court from spectator Eric Hall, who helped Mr Butler move Thomas Jr towards the gym.

He said: “After a short while, Mr Butler placed his black jacket over the boy and said there was nothing else he could do.

“I said ‘he can’t be dead’ and the copper said ‘he is’ and then the copper started crying.

“I put my hand on the policeman’s back and said ‘he can’t be dead, he’s too young to die.’ I also then began to cry.”

The inquests continue.