A police officer broke down as he described the ‘mayhem’ of fans trying to get into Sheffield Wednesday’s stadium as the Hillsborough disaster unfolded.
Giving evidence to the new inquests into the 1989 tragedy, Inspector Stephen Ellis said he climbed on to a police car to help direct the crowd as people tried to get into the ground in the moments before the scheduled 3pm kick-off.
Asked to describe what he saw from the vehicle, Inspector Ellis started crying and said: “Basically, it was mayhem. All I could see were heads of hair, people getting crushed at the turnstiles and down Leppings Lane as far as I could see, which was maybe 400m before the road bent out of sight.
“It was wall-to-wall supporters coming towards me and coming towards people in the turnstile area that were getting crushed.
“I saw a man near the turnstiles protecting his daughter. He’d got his feet up against the wall four foot off the ground. And he was getting pushed back with his shoulders and his daughter was stood between his legs.”
Inspector Ellis said he told fans steps were being taken to delay the kick-off but it had no effect on calming down the situation.
He told the inquest a ‘madness’ had gripped supporters as they tried to get into the stadium, and said he saw a man dive over a police horse in a bid to get into the ground.
He said he feared for the safety of supporters.
Inspector Ellis said even after the kick-off, after the crowd numbers had reduced outside the ground, people were still trying to get in despite perimeter gates being closed.
He said: “I’ve been an operational officer all my life and I’ve dealt with drunks and violence, but this behaviour was something different.
“We closed the perimeter gate – the fans didn’t understand what power the police had to deny ticket holders entry to the match.
“I was surrounded by them.”