Jury sworn in for trial of Hillsborough match commander David Duckenfield

Hillsborough match commander David Duckenfield (Pic: Peter Byrne/PA Wire)
Hillsborough match commander David Duckenfield (Pic: Peter Byrne/PA Wire)

A jury has been sworn in for the trial of Hillsborough match commander David Duckenfield.

Seven men and seven women were selected from a panel of 29 at Preston Crown Court today to serve as a jury of 12, with two extra people who will sit through the case opening.

Former South Yorkshire Police chief superintendent Duckenfield, 74, of Bournemouth, denies the gross negligence manslaughter of 95 Liverpool fans at the 1989 FA Cup semi-final at Hillsborough football stadium.

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

Duckenfield appears in court alongside former Sheffield Wednesday club secretary Graham Mackrell, 69, of Stocking Pelham, Hertfordshire, who is charged with contravening a term or condition of the stadium's safety certificate and failing to discharge a duty under the Health and Safety Act.

Opening the case, Richard Matthews QC, prosecuting, told jurors the youngest of the 96 victims of the disaster had been 10-year-old Jon-Paul Gilhooley.

He said 94 of the 96 succumbed to their fatal injuries on April 15, 1989, while 14-year-old Lee Nicol died two days later and Tony Bland suffered ‘terrible brain damage’ and was in a permanent vegetative state until March 1993 when he passed away.

He said: "Each of the 96 was a Liverpool FC supporter who had travelled to Sheffield to enjoy the ticket-only FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest; each was an individual who formed part of what was the anticipated 50,000 crowd of spectators, whose attendance, entry and accommodation at the Hillsborough Stadium should have been properly planned for and safely facilitated.

Mr Matthews said: "It may be that there was an extraordinary series of collective and personal failures on the part of very many, if not all, of those who were responsible for the planning, organisation and management of the arrival, entry and accommodation of the 50,000 fans at the Hillsborough Stadium.

"Sadly, there were also many collective and individual failures to intervene effectively once the disaster unfolded, not least through the failure of anyone in a position to do so, Mr Duckenfield included, to declare the situation a 'major incident' in good time, to put in place emergency measures to release those trapped and to organise and provide emergency medical attention, particularly attempts at resuscitation."

He said Duckenfield, as match commander, had the ‘ultimate responsibility’ for the police operation as well as ‘personal responsibility’ to take reasonable care for the arrangements put in place, the command of those beneath him, the orders he gave and the decisions he made.

He added: "It is the prosecution's case that David Duckenfield's failures to discharge this personal responsibility were extraordinarily bad and contributed substantially to the deaths of each of those 96 people who so tragically and unnecessarily lost their lives."