Hillsborough was ‘death trap’ claims policeman

The Hillsborough disaster unfolding
The Hillsborough disaster unfolding
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A former inspector involved in policing outside the Leppings Lane end on the day of the Hillsborough disaster has told a jury the area outside the turnstiles was a ‘death trap’.

Inspector Gordon Sykes was giving evidence at the new inquests into the deaths of the 96 Liverpool FC fans who died on April 15 1989.

Mr Sykes, known as ‘Psycho’ by his colleagues, said he was also on duty at an FA Cup semi-final at Hillsborough in 1981, during which there was a crushing incident in the Leppings Lane end and he helped fans to escape the terraces.

He said: “I was standing at that wall leaning over and grabbing people and pulling them over the fence because I could see what was happening with the crushing on the terracing people being crushed up against the fence.”

He said after the match he attended a police debriefing where it was his view his superiors were more concerned with the match being stopped rather than the crushing incident.

“They were rather worried that - and I think this came down from the club - if the match had been stopped - they wouldn’t get another semi final which was a loss of a large amount of revenue to the club.”

Referring to police strategies to control crowds outside the turnstiles, Mr Sykes said: “Up to 1989, I’m going to put it bluntly, we got away with it.”

Giving evidence to Christina Lambert QC, counsel to the inquests, Mr Sykes said he thought match commander David Duckenfield was ‘weak’ and ‘didn’t understand what a semi final entailed’.

Ms Lambert asked if he ever raised his concerns with his police superiors.

Mr Sykes said his views and similar views to his were expressed ‘many times’ before and after the disaster.

He said: “People were well aware what my feelings were and the feelings of fellow officers.”

The hearing continues.