Hillsborough officer ‘shocked’ by death of teenager he was trying to save

Colin Ashcroft, one of the victims of the Hillsborough disaster. Picture courtesy of the Liverpool Echo
Colin Ashcroft, one of the victims of the Hillsborough disaster. Picture courtesy of the Liverpool Echo
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A police officer who treated a teenage victim of the Hillsborough disaster was ‘shocked’ when the 19-year-old was pronounced dead on the pitch.

Colin Ashcroft, a gardener from Warrington who attended a special school before getting a job on a Government training scheme, was among the 96 Liverpool supporters who died at the FA Cup semi-final match in 1989.

He had been in Pen Four on the Leppings Lane terraces when he was caught in crushing.

David Butler, a police constable who was on duty on the day of the disaster, said he had carried Colin from the gate of pen four.

He said he cleared Colin’s airway and began giving him mouth-to-mouth while another man gave chest compressions.

In a statement, he said: “We continued for several minutes, until a doctor arrived and upon checking his pulse the doctor declared life to be extinct and covered the man’s face.”

He told the new inquests: “I had a memory of a doctor being escorted by another person and he felt, my memory was, he felt for a pulse and he quickly said ‘He’s gone. Move on’. He was then taken to another.”

In a statement he made in 2013, he said: “I was shocked that Colin had died, as he felt warm and his skin colour was yellow. He still looked alive to me.”

He told the court at that time he had never dealt with anyone who had recently died before.

He said: “I think that was the first person, to my knowledge, that had been declared, to my personal knowledge, had been declared deceased and I think it was a realisation that they weren’t just unconscious. That people may well be dead.”

The court heard Colin’s mum, Janet Russell, heard about the disaster that afternoon and made repeated inquiries to try and find her son.

She identified him in Sheffield the following day.