Jury in Hillsborough disaster trial set to retire to consider verdict

Ninety six fans died at the Hillsborough disaster
Ninety six fans died at the Hillsborough disaster

The jury in the trial of match commander David Duckenfield, who was in charge on the day of the Hillsborough disaster, is due to retire to consider its verdicts today.

The six men and six women on the jury are to be sent out this morning after a 10 week trial at Preston Crown Court.

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Duckenfield, 74, denies the gross negligence manslaughter of 95 Liverpool fans who died in the disaster at the FA Cup semi-final on April 15 1989.

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Ninety-six men, women and children died as a result of the fatal crush on the Leppings Lane terrace.

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Under the law at the time, there can be no prosecution for the 96th victim, Tony Bland, as he died more than a year and a day after the disaster.

Retired Chief Superintendent Duckenfield is standing trial alongside former Sheffield Wednesday club secretary Graham Mackrell, who denies failing to discharge his duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

It is alleged Mackrell, 69, failed to take care as safety officer particularly in respect of ensuring turnstiles were of such number to admit fans at a rate where there were no unduly large crowds waiting for admission.

The court has heard there were seven turnstiles for the 10,100 Liverpool fans with standing tickets for the match against Nottingham Forest.

Duckenfield gave the order to open exit gates to the ground after crowds built up outside.

More than 2,000 fans entered the ground after the gate was opened, with many making their way down the tunnel to the central pens of the terrace, where the fatal crush happened.

Judge Sir Peter Openshaw told the jury to be ‘dispassionate’ and ‘objective’ when considering its verdicts.

He said: "The death of 96 spectators, many of whom were very young, is a profound human tragedy attended by much sadness and anger which for many is as raw today as it was 30 years ago.

"Understandably, and probably inevitably, there have been times during the trial of heightened emotion and distress of which you will have been keenly aware.

"But, as you go about your duty to strive to deliver verdicts according to the evidence, you must try and put aside your emotions and sympathies and to decide the case after an objective and dispassionate review of the evidence."