Two fans ‘might have caused’ barrier break, Hillsborough jury told

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Two supporters jumping on a crush barrier may have let to its collapse in the Hillsborough disaster, a jury has heard.

One fan of ‘heavy build’ was said to have stood on it while another was ‘crowd surfing off the barrier’, the inquest into the deaths of 96 Liverpool supporters was told.

Fans climbing over the fence at the Leppings Lane end of Hillsborough Stadium, Sheffield at 3.15pm.

Fans climbing over the fence at the Leppings Lane end of Hillsborough Stadium, Sheffield at 3.15pm.

The barrier collapsed in the central pens of the Leppings Lane terrace of the ground, which was the scene of the 1989 tragedy.

Giving evidence in Warrington, structural engineer John Strange said he thought the actions of those fans “might have contributed” to its collapse.

The relevant barrier, 124a, passed a safety inspection in 1988 and when it was examined after the collapse a rolled-up newspaper dating back to 1931 was discovered inside.

John Strange raised the matter when interviewed last year by officers from Operation Resolve - the criminal investigation into the disaster at the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.

He had carried out some research and identified the name of a police officer who had spoken of the jumping on the barrier, the inquest heard.

John Beggs QC, representing retired superintendents David Duckenfield, Roger Greenwood and Roger Marshall, said he had located that officer, who would give evidence at a later date.

He said: “He describes almost exactly what you described in the interview which, can I remind you, was that a youth of heavy build stood on that barrier - the one that was to collapse - springing up and down.

“You seem to think, Mr Strange, that the individual - if it happened and the jury will hear directly from the officer - and another individual who was crowd surfing off the barrier, might have contributed to that barrier’s strain and ultimate collapse?”

Mr Strange replied: “Yes sir.”

Mr Beggs said: “You said that as an engineer of many years standing?”

“Yes,” Mr Strange replied.

The inquest resumes on Monday.