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Hillsborough commander David Duckenfield ‘ignored pleas from police that people would be killed’

Trevor Hicks, giving testimony at the manslaughter trial of match commander David Duckenfield, said he watched the crush develop in the Leppings Lane terrace. He is seen outside Preston Crown Court in 2016 

A Hillsborough survivor whose two daughters were crushed to death has told a court he was told to ‘shut up’ when he pleaded for a policeman to do something as the disaster unfolded. 

Trevor Hicks, giving testimony at the manslaughter trial of match commander David Duckenfield, said he watched the crush develop in the Leppings Lane terrace, where his daughters, Sarah, 19, and Victoria, 15, had tickets.

He told the court he saw people looking ‘uncomfortable’ but the police ‘totally misread’ the situation – thinking it was a pitch invasion. Mr Hicks said he alerted a police officer to take action but was told to ‘shut up’

Preston Crown Court heard as he entered the pitch he saw his daughter being passed over the fences. He was at the game with his wife, Jenni, who attended today’s hearing in the public gallery. 

Richard Matthews, QC, said: ‘Mr Hicks said he and someone else started to give life support to Victoria. He will describe eventually going in an ambulance with Victoria, how he believed there was a suggestion of a flicker of a pulse.

‘But about 10 to 15 minutes later, at the Northern General Hospital, he was told that Vicky had died.

‘His attention then turned to finding his other daughter Sarah and what he could do for her, and how he eventually was to learn that she too had died.’

The jury was also showed photographed a fans being crushed by the fencing.

Deborah Routledge had gone to the game with her friend Lisa Riding and described ‘only being able to take short breaths, of blacking out.’​

Mr Hicks daughters, Sarah (left) and Victoria, had tickets in the Leppings Lane end, the court heard. Image undated 

Mr Hicks daughters, Sarah (left) and Victoria, had tickets in the Leppings Lane end, the court heard. Image undated 

Another undated image of Sarah and Victoria that has been released by the Hicks family 

Another undated image of Sarah and Victoria that has been released by the Hicks family 

Earlier today, the trial heard how Hillsborough police officers pleaded with bosses to open the gates to let Liverpool fans inside the ground before they were crushed to death in the ‘bloody chaos’ outside. 

David Duckenfield initially refused repeated requests from Superintendent Roger Marshall, who was monitoring the crowds and ‘screaming’ for the gates to be opened because someone was going to be killed. 

The ex-Chief Superintendent of South Yorkshire, who is on trial for gross negligence manslaughter, allegedly said he feared supporters without tickets and carrying weapons would gain access if he opened the gates.

He also refused to delay the FA Cup semi-final because the Liverpool players were already on the pitch – despite a plea from colleagues including one heard saying: ‘Surely by God they’ll delay the kick off’. 

It is claimed it was only when Duckenfield was told people were going to die that he gave the order to open a gate by the turnstiles and said: ‘If people are going to get killed, open the gates’.

But he then failed to tell his officers to direct them into parts of the stand with room for them and the ‘vice-like’ crush of fans took hold, it is alleged.

Jenni Hicks outside Preston Crown Court today

Former police superintendent David Duckenfield in 2009

Jenni Hicks outside Preston Crown Court today (left) and former police superintendent David Duckenfield in 2009 

Hillsborough victim family members Jenni Hicks and Jackie Gilhooley, whose son Jon-Paul, ten, was the youngest victim at Hillsborough arrive at Preston Preston Crown Court today

Hillsborough victim family members Jenni Hicks and Jackie Gilhooley, whose son Jon-Paul, ten, was the youngest victim at Hillsborough arrive at Preston Preston Crown Court today

The jury also heard of the ‘scene of horror’ in the pens where the fatal crush happened and how police officers appeared to be doing ‘absolutely nothing’ as people died screaming for their help.

Families of the 96 who perished watched from the public gallery today including Jenni Hicks, and Jackie Gilhooley, whose son Jon-Paul, ten, was the youngest victim at Hillsborough in April 1989.

This afternoon they heard the opening of Duckenfield’s defence where his QC Ben Myers said that neither he nor his client ‘seek to insult Liverpool Football Club or its supporters or the city of Liverpool itself’.

But added the manslaughter prosecution is ‘unfair’ on the match commander because it is ‘based on hindsight’ and ‘things he couldn’t have known at the time or couldn’t have been expected to know’.

Mr Myers added: ‘Can it be fair to single one man out in the prosecution? Many other people played a part’.

Sheffield Wednesday club secretary Graham Mackrell, 69, (pictured yesterday) faces health and safety charges 

Sheffield Wednesday club secretary Graham Mackrell, 69, (pictured yesterday) faces health and safety charges 

The court was shown video of the  crowd building up outside the turnstiles on Leppings Lane before kick-off, before an exit gate was opened to allow them into the ground. 

The jury was also shown TV footage of fans being crushed outside the Leppings Lane terrace entrance as police – some on horseback – tried to ease the crush.

Supporters were seen climbing over the walls and police pulling children out of the crowd to safety. 

Mr Matthews said Duckenfield failed to act to alleviate the crushing outside the ground.

He said: ‘Mr Duckenfield’s role was to use the resources he had at his disposal to get a proper assessment of what was going on – he did not have the burden of personally coping with an encompassing crowd but instead the responsibility of command from a bird’s eye view and a host of cameras and screens to assist him.’

The jury was told how ex-Chief Inspector Robbie McRobbie remembered Duckenfield refusing to open the gates because he feared fans could be carrying weapons. 

Mr Matthews said: ‘There was an expectation that the officers outside would be able to manage the situation.

‘Mr McRobbie recollects that Mr Duckenfield had said he could not open the gates.

‘They would lose control of who was admitted. It was an all ticket game.

‘It would transfer the problem if people were carrying weapons or things that they should not have been.’

Mr Matthews said Sergeant Bernard Goddard remembered Duckenfield agreeing to open the gates on Supt Marshall’s third request after saying: ‘People would be killed if the gates were not opened.’ 

The jury was told that Duckenfield said: ‘if people are going to get killed, open the gates.’ 

Fans sit on the terraces at Hillsborough just after 12pm on the day of the match, hours before the crush in which 96 people died, in an image seen by the jury

Fans sit on the terraces at Hillsborough just after 12pm on the day of the match, hours before the crush in which 96 people died, in an image seen by the jury

The jury was shown this diagram of Hillsborough football ground and heard how Spurs fans were crushed there in 1981 but police opened the gates

The jury was shown this diagram of Hillsborough football ground and heard how Spurs fans were crushed there in 1981 but police opened the gates

The stadium begins to fill up closer to the 3pm kick-off, in another image seen by the jury on Wednesday

The stadium begins to fill up closer to the 3pm kick-off, in another image seen by the jury on Wednesday

This image, seen by the jury at Preston Crown Court yesterday, shows fans beginning to arrive for the FA Cup semi-final hours before the disaster

This image, seen by the jury at Preston Crown Court yesterday, shows fans beginning to arrive for the FA Cup semi-final hours before the disaster

Why is Hillsborough match commander David Duckenfield being prosecuted for 95 deaths and not 96?

David Duckenfield is accused of causing 95 of the 96 deaths of the people at Hillsborough in Sheffield in April 1989.

The law at the time means no one will ever be prosecuted for the death of the 96th victim.

Tony Bland, 22, (pictured) was crushed during the FA Cup Semi Final between his beloved Liverpool and Nottingham Forest. 

But he survived for four years because of life support.

Because he died more than a year and a day after his injuries were caused the CPS could not charge Duckenfield with his manslaughter.

In a statement, his family said last year: ‘Whilst we are hugely disappointed with the exclusion of Tony from the manslaughter charge against [match commander] David Duckenfield by the CPS, our relief for the families of the other 95 men, women and children outweigh our personal frustrations. 

‘We will continue to support the other families on the journey for accountability.’ 

Mr Bland’s tragic death also formed part of a test case decision that first allowed doctors to decide whether patients should die, which was made by the Law Lords in 1993.

They said the 22-year-old Liverpool football supporter, who suffered severe brain damage in the crush at Hillsborough football stadium, should be allowed to die. 

Doctors treating Mr Bland, who was in a persistent vegetative state, had to go to court to seek approval before discontinuing artificial feeding.  

The landmark Bland ruling set down that artificial nutrition and hydration by tube are not normal feeding but medical treatment. 

Continuing to open the case at Preston Crown Court on Thursday, Richard Matthews QC, prosecuting, said calculations showed the density at the front of pen three of the Leppings Lane at 3.03pm, three minutes after the 1989 FA Cup semi-final kicked off, was as high as 10 people per every square metre. 

Mr Matthews said more than 2,600 Liverpool fans entered the Leppings Lane terrace when the Gate C was opened on two occasions.

Mr Matthews said: ‘When David Duckenfield finally acceded to those requests, he did so having failed to take any action himself or tasked anyone else with any action in good time to prevent crushing to persons in pens three and four by the inevitable flow of spectators through the central tunnel.

‘Not before, during or after the 5 minutes or more that Gate C was opened and the inexorable flow of more than two thousand people through Gate C did David Duckenfield do anything to prevent, to hinder, discourage the flow of people down the central tunnel; nor did he do anything to avert the inevitable result.

‘No matter who else could have done better, done more, done things differently, David Duckenfield’s failures continued, each was compounded by successive failures, each was contributed to by earlier failures and each was and flowed from his own decision making and fell squarely within his personal responsibility as Match Commander.

‘It will be a matter for you to decide, but the prosecution allege that the evidence will demonstrate to you that these failings went beyond error or serious error and are rightly to be viewed as extraordinarily bad – in the face of what was both a serious and obvious of death.’ 

Mr Matthews said the court would hear from Liverpool fans who were on the terrace on April 15, 1989, including off-duty police officer Stephen Allen.

He said: ‘We will hear from him what, in short, I can describe now as the remarkable help he gave and the scene of horror around him.’

He said they would also hear evidence from fan Colin Moneypenny about the experience in the pens.

‘He described that he was just shouting and screaming and trying to get people to help with no effect for the whole of the period,’ Mr Matthews said.

‘He could see police officers on the other side of the perimeter fence and it appeared they were doing absolutely nothing.’  

Jurors in the trial at Preston Crown Court were shown the location of the police control box at Sheffield Wednesday's stadium

Jurors in the trial at Preston Crown Court were shown the location of the police control box at Sheffield Wednesday’s stadium

A computer-generated image of Hillsborough football ground as it appeared in 1989 - and the tunnel Liverpool fans entered the Leppings Lane end -  was shown to the jury as the trial began 

A computer-generated image of Hillsborough football ground as it appeared in 1989 – and the tunnel Liverpool fans entered the Leppings Lane end –  was shown to the jury as the trial began 

Jurors saw this computer-generated footage of the entrance to Hillsborough football ground 

Jurors saw this computer-generated footage of the entrance to Hillsborough football ground 

This computer-generated reconstruction of the terraces at Hillsborough were also shown to the jury at the opening of the trial 

This computer-generated reconstruction of the terraces at Hillsborough were also shown to the jury at the opening of the trial 

Duckenfield, 74, is in the dock at Preston Crown Court accused of the gross negligence manslaughter of supporters at Britain’s worst stadium disaster in history. 

BBC star John Motson said ‘hardly any’ Liverpool fans were inside stadium as turnstile crush started

BBC match commentator John Motson remark how sparse sections of the Leppings Lane terrace just 16 minutes before kick-off.

He said: ‘I think what has happened is that some ticket holders don’t come because there is hardly anyone on the steps.

‘If you look to the right of the goal there is hardly anybody there.’

The trial heard how Sgt Michael Goddard said the game could not be delayed because the Liverpool players were already on the pitch.

Mr Matthews said: ‘Chief Superintendent Duckenfield and Supt Murray, who had heard PC Buxton’s request and Sergeant Goddard’s response, did not intervene. Sergeant Goddard’s evidence will be that by that time he believed it was too late to delay the kick off.

‘It would have involved the match or ground commander going down to see the referee and delay the kick off, or sending someone else to do so.’

Mr Matthews said former Sheffield Wednesday employee, working in the control box, told one officer: ‘This is not right. The amount of people outside externally…the build-up in the Leppings Lane reservoir area and… what was coming through the turnstiles, there was no way they were going to get them in.’

Mr Houldsworth heard someone else comment: ‘Surely, they’ll, by God, they’ll delay the kick-off.’ 

On day four of his four-month trial the prosecution said he made a series of errors that led to their deaths during the FA Cup semi-final.

First he failed to act when officers said there was a crush outside the stadium that became so serious children had to be lifted over their parents’ heads to save them.

A colleague of Duckenfield’s in the police control room with him was heard saying: ‘Surely, they’ll, by God, they’ll delay the kick off’ but the match commander did not, the court heard.

Richard Matthews, QC, prosecuting, said Duckenfield did nothing to stop thousands of Liverpool fans flowing into two already overcrowded pens in the Leppings Lane end where victims were crushed to death.  

Match commander Duckenfield is in the dock at Preston Crown Court accused of the gross negligence manslaughter of 95 Liverpool fans at Britain’s worst stadium disaster in history. 

The 96th victim – Tony Bland, 22 – is not part of the prosecution because he died of brain damage almost four years after the disaster. 

Supporters were crushed on the terraces at Hillsborough eight years before the disaster, a court heard yesterday.

But lives were saved when police decided to open gates to allow the Tottenham supporters on to the pitch in April 1981.

Liverpool fans on the same Leppings Lane terraces at the Sheffield stadium were not so lucky in April 1989, Preston Crown Court was told.

David Duckenfield, 74, the police match commander, is on trial for the manslaughter of 95 supporters who died in a fatal crush at the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.

The jury was told that, in 1989, officers policing pens full of Liverpool supporters were under ‘strict orders’ not to open the pen gates on to the pitch unless a senior officer ordered them to do so. 

he full list of the victims of the Hillsborough disaster (top row left to right) Adam Edward Spearritt, Alan Johnston, Alan McGlone, Andrew Mark Brookes, Anthony Bland, Anthony Peter Kelly, Arthur Horrocks, Barry Glover, Barry Sidney Bennett, Brian Christopher Mathews, Carl William Rimmer, Carl Brown, (second row left to right) Carl Darren Hewitt, Carl David Lewis, Christine Anne Jones, Christopher James Traynor, Christopher Barry Devonside, Christopher Edwards, Colin Wafer, Colin Andrew Hugh William Sefton, Colin Mark Ashcroft, David William Birtle, David George Rimmer, David Hawley, (third row left to right) David John Benson, David Leonard Thomas, David William Mather, Derrick George Godwin, Eric Hankin, Eric George Hughes, Francis Joseph McAllister, Gary Christopher Church, Gary Collins, Gary Harrison, Gary Philip Jones, Gerard Bernard Patrick Baron, (fourth row left to right) Gordon Rodney Horn, Graham John Roberts, Graham John Wright, Henry Charles Rogers

he full list of the victims of the Hillsborough disaster (top row left to right) Adam Edward Spearritt, Alan Johnston, Alan McGlone, Andrew Mark Brookes, Anthony Bland, Anthony Peter Kelly, Arthur Horrocks, Barry Glover, Barry Sidney Bennett, Brian Christopher Mathews, Carl William Rimmer, Carl Brown, (second row left to right) Carl Darren Hewitt, Carl David Lewis, Christine Anne Jones, Christopher James Traynor, Christopher Barry Devonside, Christopher Edwards, Colin Wafer, Colin Andrew Hugh William Sefton, Colin Mark Ashcroft, David William Birtle, David George Rimmer, David Hawley, (third row left to right) David John Benson, David Leonard Thomas, David William Mather, Derrick George Godwin, Eric Hankin, Eric George Hughes, Francis Joseph McAllister, Gary Christopher Church, Gary Collins, Gary Harrison, Gary Philip Jones, Gerard Bernard Patrick Baron, (fourth row left to right) Gordon Rodney Horn, Graham John Roberts, Graham John Wright, Henry Charles Rogers

Prosecutor Richard Matthews QC (pictured) says Duckenfield made a series of errors that make him culpable for the deaths of Liverpool fans

Prosecutor Richard Matthews QC (pictured) says Duckenfield made a series of errors that make him culpable for the deaths of Liverpool fans

Richard Matthews QC, prosecuting, said a decision to open the gates during the FA Cup semi-final between Tottenham and Wolves in April 1981 was key to preventing injury and saving lives. Mr Matthews read from a letter sent by a police chief to Herbert McGhee, the chairman of Sheffield Wednesday Football Club, following the match.

It said: ‘Beyond doubt the police action, in letting spectators on to the track, was not only necessary but was vital to avoid further serious injuries and possibly save life..’

No such order was given in 1989 by Duckenfield who, the prosecution say, allowed a large number of fans into the ground shortly before the 3pm kick-off to relieve pressure outside the turnstiles without proper consideration of the consequences for those packed in pens inside.

The jury was told the 1989 tragedy occurred against a backdrop of ‘serious hooliganism’. CCTV cameras trained on the turnstiles at Sheffield Wednesday’s ground were there not for the safety of fans, but to guard against fraud and stop supporters getting in without tickets or paying, the court heard.

Duckenfield, of Bournemouth, is on trial alongside Graham Mackrell, 69, the former club secretary at Sheffield Wednesday who faces safety charges. 

They deny the charges. The trial continues.

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