Police went on break

Hillsborough football stadium disaster
Hillsborough football stadium disaster
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Police motorcyclists monitoring traffic outside Hillsborough in 1989 were called away from the ground for a refreshment break shortly after the kick-off of the fateful FA Cup semi-final, the inquest into the tragedy heard.

Malcolm Hodgson, then a police constable with South Yorkshire Police, recorded that at 3.02pm he finished escorting coaches to the match and sent a message to force control asking to do the next.

He told Stephen Simblet, representing some of the families of the 96 Liverpool fans who died, he was told to go on the planned break for traffic officers.

The barrister asked: “Nobody was saying, ‘We have got a problem, we have got an emergency, you need to attend’? You were being sent off on your break as expected?” Mr Hodgson replied: “At the time, yes.”

The witness said he travelled three-and-a-half miles away from the ground before he was told at 3.15pm to return immediately.

He said he arrived 10 minutes later and was met by an ambulance containing two casualties which he escorted to Sheffield’s Northern General Hospital.

Mr Hodgson said he had ‘no idea of the magnitude of what was taking place’ because he could not access his radio.

He said the hospital was ‘chaotic’ with police officers ‘in a daze’ and a change in the crowd atmosphere.

Mr Hodgson said: “My most poignant memory is a man who was completely upset. He came and literally screamed in my face, ‘You caused this’.

“I thought at that point I was going to be pushed off my motorcycle and possibly injured. I was afraid slightly for what might happen.”

On his next return convoy visit he said traffic on Penistone Road was gridlocked and he joined ambulance staff on foot to try to get to the ground.