David Duckenfield was the police match commander on the day of the Hillsborough disaster, which led to the deaths of 96 fans
The police match commander on the day the Hillsborough disaster led to the deaths of 96 football fans has been cleared of manslaughter today.
David Duckenfield ordered the opening of a gate which led to a surge of Liverpool fans into the central pen of the Leppings Lane terrace at Sheffield Wednesday’s stadium in 1989.
There was no way out, meaning those inside the already dangerously-packed enclosure were forced up against a fence behind the goal.
Prosecutors said now-retired policeman Duckenfield made ‘extraordinarily bad’ mistakes which ‘contributed substantially’ to the deaths and made ‘no attempt’ to monitor if the pens holding supporters were overcrowded.
The case against him was that he failed to act fast enough as the worst football stadium disaster in history unfolded.
But – after his first trial failed to reach a verdict – a jury at a retrial found him not guilty of gross negligence manslaughter today.
The case centred on the decision to open this gate, which was usually used to allow fans to exit the stadium after matches. When it was opened, around 2,000 extra fans flooded into the ground, with many then becoming caught up in the crush inside the terrace
Duckenfield was in the police control box when the decision was given to open the gate
Ninety-six men, women and children died following the crush on the terrace but, under the law at the time, there could be no prosecution for the death of the 96th victim Tony Bland as he died more than a year and a day after the disaster.
The court has heard Duckenfield ordered exit gates to the stadium be opened after crowds built up outside the turnstiles, allowing fans to head through exit gate C and down the tunnel to the central pens where the fatal crush happened.
What was the case against Duckenfield?
Prosecutors claimed Duckenfield committed gross negligence manslaughter by:
- Failing to identify potential confining points and hazards to the safe entry of 24,000 Liverpool supporters who would enter through the Leppings Lane end of the ground.
- Failing to monitor and assess the number and situation of spectators yet to enter the Leppings Lane end.
- Failing to take action, in good time, to relieve crowd pressure at the Leppings Lane turnstiles.
- Failing to monitor and assess the number and situation of spectators in pens three and four of the Leppings Lane terrace.
- Failing to prevent crushing to people in pens three and four by stopping the flow of spectators from the central tunnel.
Richard Matthews QC, prosecuting, said the match commander’s personal responsibility lay at ‘the heart’ of the case.
But, Benjamin Myers QC, defending, said the former South Yorkshire Police officer had become a ‘target of blame’ and the prosecution was unfair.
The jury were warned by judge Sir Peter Openshaw to put aside the emotion as they considered the case.
He said: ‘The deaths of 96 spectators, many of whom were very young, is, of course, a profound human tragedy attended by much anguish and anger which for many has not passed with time.
‘But, as both counsel have advised you and I will now direct you, as you go about your duty you must put aside your emotions and sympathies, either for the bereaved families or indeed for Mr Duckenfield, and decide the case with a cold, calm and dispassionate review of the evidence that you have heard in court.’
Duckenfield stood trial in January but the jury was discharged after failing to reach a verdict.
The Hillsborough disaster claimed the lives of 96 Liverpool fans. The death of one fan, Tony Bland, was not included in the charges of the trial as he died to late for his death to be linked to the case under the laws of the time
Timeline of a tragedy: How the Hillsborough disaster unfolded
Beginning of the day: South Yorkshire Police asked both clubs to ensure their fans arrived between 10.30am and 2pm for the game.
2pm: The Leppings Lane turnstiles began operating smoothly, but after 2.15pm the volume of fans increased.
2.30pm: The road was closed. Fans were asked over the PA system to move forward and spread out in the space. Officers considered delayed the kick-off but did not.
2.40pm: Large crowds had built up outside the turnstiles.
2.44pm: Fans were asked to stop pushing, though crowding was already bad and the turnstiles were struggling to cope.
2.47pm to 2.57pm: Some external gates were opened to relived pressure on the turnstiles – which caused fans to rush forward and crowd the pens even more. Pressure built up, and narrow gates in two of the pens were opened. Officers thought fans were deliberately invading the pitch.
3pm: Kick-off. By this time the crush at the front of the pens was intolerable.
Fans scramble into the top tier of the Leppings Lane end terrace to escape the crush
3.04pm: Liverpool player Peter Beardsley struck the crossbar of the Nottingham goal, causing fans to rush forward again. The huge pressure caused one of the crush barriers to break, making the situation even more dire for those pressed against it.
3.05pm: Ambulance staff began investigation.
3.05pm to 3.06pm: Police Superintendent Roger Greenwood decided the match had to be stopped and ran onto the pitch.
3.06pm to 3.08pm: Police called for a fleet of ambulances.
3.07pm to 3.10pm: South Yorkshire Police called for all available resources to come to the stadium.
3.08pm: Ambulance officers, under Mr Higgins, returned to the Leppings Lane end to treat a fracture victim. There were more spectators on the pitch. Some were distressed, some were angry.
3.13pm: An ambulance from St John Ambulance, the volunteer force, was driven around the perimeter of the pitch at the north-east corner. It was mentioned that there may have been fatalities.
3.15pm: The secretary of Sheffield Wednesday and the chief executive of the Football Association, Graham Kelly, went to the police control box to ask for information. Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield said there were fatalities and the game was likely to be called off. He also said that a gate had been forced, that there had been an in-rush of Liverpool supporters. This later transpired to not be correct.
3.29pm: By this time fire engines and more ambulances had arrived. One ambulance was driven onto the pitch.
3.56pm: Kenny Dalglish, the Liverpool manager, broadcast a message to all fans. He asked them to remain calm. The police had asked him to do so.
Liverpool and Nottingham Forest managers Kenny Dalglish and Brian Clough on the day
4.10pm: The match was formally abandoned and many fans returned home.
4.30pm: By this time, some 88 people had been taken by ambulance to the Northern General Hospital and some 71 to the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield by 42 ambulances.
5pm: The South Yorkshire coroner, Dr Stefan Popper, gave instructions for the bodies to be kept in the gymnasium until they had been photographed and identified. By the end of the evening 82 people had been declared dead at Hillsborough. 12 more were declared dead in hospital.
Another person, Lee Nicol, survived for two days on a life support machine before he, too, died. The 96th victim of the Hillsborough disaster was Tony Bland. He survived until 1993, but with severe brain damage.
Who were the victims of the Hillsborough disaster?
These are the 96 victims who lost their lives as a result of the Hillsborough tragedy on April 15 1989:
Adam Edward Spearritt, 14. A schoolboy from Cheshire, Adam was taken to the game by his father Edward and two friends.
Alan Johnston, 29. A trainee accountant from Liverpool. Mr Johnston had travelled to Sheffield in a hired minibus with friends and was separated from them at the Leppings Lane turnstile due to the crowd.
Alan McGlone, 28. A factory worker from Kirkby, who shared a car to Sheffield with friends, including Joseph Clark, a fellow victim.
Adam Edward Spearritt, Alan Johnston, Alan McGlone
Andrew Mark Brookes, 26. A car worker from Bromsgrove, Worcestershire. Mr Brookes drove to the game with friends and entered the stadium through the turnstiles with his friend Mark Richards, before he was separated by a crowd surge.
Anthony David Bland, 22. A labourer from Keighley, West Yorkshire, who was 18 when he went to the game with two friends. Mr Bland died in 1993, several years after the disaster, after receiving severe brain injuries on the day which left him in a vegetative state. A landmark legal ruling allowed his family to stop life-support treatment, making him Hillsborough’s 96th and final victim. His death was not included in the David Duckenfield trial because laws at the time meant he died too late to be covered by the indictment.
Anthony Peter Kelly, 29. A married soldier from Birkenhead. He travelled to Sheffield with two friends, who survived.
Andrew Mark Brookes, Anthony Bland, Anthony Peter Kelly
Arthur Horrocks, 41. A married insurance agent from the Wirral, Mr Horrocks had travelled to the game with his brother and nephews. One nephew saw him lose consciousness as crowd pressure intensified in one of the enclosures.
Barry Glover, 27. A married greengrocer from Bury, Lancashire. Mr Glover travelled to Sheffield with his father and three friends.
Barry Sidney Bennett, 26. A seaman from Liverpool. Mr Bell had driven to watch the game with four friends.
Arthur Horrocks, Barry Glover, Barry Sidney Bennett
Brian Christopher Matthews, 38. A married financial consultant from Merseyside. He was a season ticket holder and had travelled to the game with friends.
Carl William Rimmer, 21. A video technician from Liverpool who went to see the match with his brother Kevin and two friends, who survived.
Carl Brown, 18. A student from Leigh, Greater Manchester. Mr Brown had travelled to the game with a group of friends by car.
Brian Christopher Mathews, Carl William Rimmer, Carl Brown
Carl Darren Hewitt, 17. An apprentice cabinet maker from Leicester. He had gone to the ground with his brother, Nicholas, who was also killed. The pair had travelled up to the fixture on a supporters coach.
Carl David Lewis, 18. A labourer from Kirkby who went to Hillsborough with his brothers Michael and David. He hitchhiked part of the way so he could buy a ticket outside the ground.
Christine Anne Jones, 27. A married senior radiographer from Preston. She went to the game with her husband Stephen, but was separated from him after they entered the ground.
Carl Darren Hewitt, Carl David Lewis, Christine Anne Jones
Christopher James Traynor, 26. A married joiner from Birkenhead. He travelled with his brother Martin and friend Dave Thomas, who both also died.
Christopher Barry Devonside, 18. A college student from Liverpool, Mr Devonside had gone to the game with his father and some friends. His friends lost sight of him one minute before kick off in the swelling crowd.
Christopher Edwards, 29. A steelworker from South Wirral. He travelled down to Sheffield with two others, but left them before entering the stadium.
Christopher James Traynor, Christopher Barry Devonside, Christopher Edwards
Colin Wafer, 19. A bank clerk from Liverpool who travelled alone to the match on a coach.
Colin Andrew Hugh William Sefton, 23. A security officer from Skelmersdale, West Lancashire, Mr Sefton drove to the match with his friends, who survived.
Colin Mark Ashcroft, 19. Mr Ashcroft attended the game after travelling down on a coach organised by Liverpool Supporters Travel Club.
Colin Wafer, Colin Andrew Hugh William Sefton, Colin Mark Ashcroft
David William Birtle, 22. An HGV driver from Stoke-on-Trent. Mr Birtle had attended the game alone.
David George Rimmer, 38. A married sales manager from Skelmersdale, West Lancashire. He travelled by car to Sheffield with a friend and was separated after entering the stadium due to a crowd surge.
David Hawley, 39. A married diesel fitter from St Helens. Mr Hawley drove to the game with family members, including his 17-year-old nephew Stephen O’Neill, who was also killed.
David William Birtle, David George Rimmer, David Hawley
David John Benson, 22. A sales representative from Warrington. Mr Benson had gone to the game with his friend, but had parted ways with him at the gates as they were in different areas.
David Leonard Thomas, 23. A joiner from Birkenhead. Along with a group of friends, Mr Thomas drove to the game from Liverpool. Two of the friends he was travelling with, Christopher and Martin Traynor, also died that day.
David William Mather, 19. A post office counter clerk from Liverpool who drove his friends to the fixture. After his death, Mr Mather’s ashes were scattered at The Kop of Anfield football ground.
David John Benson, David Leonard Thomas, David William Mather
Derrick George Godwin, 24. An accounts clerk from Gloucestershire. He went to the match alone, having caught a train from Cheltenham.
Eric Hankin, 33. A married nurse from Liverpool. Mr Hankin lost his friends in the crowd at the turnstile due to the crowd pressure.
Eric George Hughes, 42. A married sales executive from Warrington. He attended the game with friends and was seen by one of them being passed from the terraces by two police officers.
Derrick George Godwin, Eric Hankin, Eric George Hughes
Francis Joseph McAllister, 27. A fireman from Liverpool. Mr McAllister went to the ground with a group of friends, including Nicholas Joynes, who also died in the tragedy.
Gary Christopher Church, 19. A joiner from Liverpool. Mr Church went to the game with several friends on a minibus and met with another group which included Christopher Devonside and Simon Bell, both of whom were also killed.
Gary Collins, 22. A quality controller from Liverpool. He had driven to Sheffield with two friends, who lost him after the crushing began in the West Stand.
Francis Joseph McAllister, Gary Christopher Church, Gary Collins (right, as a boy)
Gary Harrison, 27. A married driver from Liverpool who had travelled to the game with his brother Stephen, also a victim of the disaster.
Gary Philip Jones, 18. A student from Merseyside. Mr Jones joined his cousin and several others on a minibus to the match. It was his first away game.
Gerard Bernard Patrick Baron, 67. A retired postal worker who died at the ground after driving from Preston to watch the game with his son Gerard Martin Baron Jnr. Mr Baron was the oldest person to die that day.
Gary Harrison, Gary Philip Jones, Gerard Bernard Patrick Baron
Gordon Rodney Horn, 20. A Liverpool fan who travelled to the ground with friends in a minibus from Bootle, Liverpool. He was separated from his friend in a crowd surge shortly before kick-off.
Graham John Roberts, 24. An engineer from Merseyside. He travelled by car with two friends to Hillsborough stadium.
Graham John Wright, 17. A insurance clerk from Liverpool who went to see the match with his friend James Gary Aspinall, who also died. His brother attended the game separately from Graham and survived.
Gordon Rodney Horn, Graham John Roberts, Graham John Wright
Henry Charles Rogers, 17. A student from Chester. He caught a train with his brother Adam, but once they found themselves forced through the gates by the swelling crowds, lost one another.
Henry Thomas Burke, 47. A married roofing contractor from Liverpool. Mr Burke went to Sheffield with a number of friends, but only entered the stadium with one other, James Swaine, who survived.
Ian David Whelan, 19. A junior clerk from Warrington, Yorkshire. He travelled alone to the match on a coach from Anfield organised by the Liverpool supporters club.
Henry Rogers, Henry Burke and Ian Whelan
Ian Thomas Glover, 20. A street paver from Liverpool, Mr Glover had gone to the game with his brother Joseph, who survived. The pair were separated in the crowd and his brother later saw him being pulled from the enclosure.
Inger Shah, 38. A secretary from London. She attended the match with her son Daniel, before which they met friends including Marian McCabe, who was also killed.
James Gary Aspinall, 18. A clerk from Liverpool. Mr Aspinall went on a coach from Liverpool to Sheffield with friend Graham Wright, who was also killed.
Ian Glover, Inger Shah and James Aspinall
James Philip Delaney, 19. An assembly worker from South Wirral. Mr Delaney had arrived at the game that day with two friends, one of whom, James Hennessy, also died in the disaster.
James Robert Hennessy, 29. A plasterer from Ellesmere Port, Cheshire. He caught a coach with two friends, including fellow victim James Delaney.
John Alfred Anderson, 62. A married security officer from Liverpool. Mr Anderson travelled to the game in Sheffield by car with his son Brian and two friends.
James Delaney, James Hennessy and John Anderson
John McBrien, 18. A student from Clwyd. Mr McBrien took a supporters bus to Hillsborough and was caught up in a surge near the ground’s perimeter fence.
Jonathon Owens, 18. A clerical officer from Chester. Mr Owens travelled with two friends to the match, including fellow victim Peter Burkett.
Jon-Paul Gilhooley, 10. The youngest victim of the Hillsborough tragedy. He had gone to the game with his two uncles, who both survived. Footballer Steven Gerrard was his younger cousin.
John McBrien, Jonathon Owens, Jon-Paul Gilhooley
Joseph Clark, 29. A fork-lift driver from Liverpool. He had travelled to the game with his brother Stephen and two friends, one of whom, Alan McGlone, also died at the ground.
Joseph Daniel McCarthy, 21. A student from London. He met his friends at a pub in Sheffield, including Paul Brady, a fellow victim that day.
Keith McGrath, 17. An apprentice painter from Liverpool. Mr McGrath travelled with friends, after being given a season ticket for Liverpool on his 17th birthday.
Joseph Clark, Joseph McCarthy and Keith McGrath
Kester Roger Marcus Ball, 16. A student from St Albans, Hertfordshire. Mr Ball had been driven to the game by his father Roger and was joined by two other children, who survived.
Kevin Daniel Williams, 15. A schoolboy from Merseyside who travelled to the game with four friends by train, one of whom, Stuart Thompson, also died. Mr Williams’ mother became a leading Hillsborough campaigner before her death in 2012.
Kevin Tyrell, 15. A schoolboy from Runcorn. He travelled to the game with four friends on a coach from Runcorn who he became separated from just before kick-off.
Kester Ball, Kevin Williams and Kevin Tyrrell
Lee Nicol, 14. A schoolboy from Bootle, Liverpool. He had travelled to the match with friends. Inside the ground, one friend saw him get knocked to the floor by the force of the crowd.
Marian Hazel McCabe, 21. A factory worker from Basildon, Essex, Miss McCabe took a train from London with several friends, one of whom was Inger Shah, who also died.
Martin Kevin Traynor, 16. An apprentice joiner from Birkenhead. He travelled with his brother Christopher and friend Dave Thomas, who both also died.
Martin Kenneth Wild, 29. A printing worker from Cheshire. He had travelled to the game from Stockport with a group of friends, who all survived. He became separated from his friends during the game, who then next saw him on the floor.
Michael David Kelly, 38. A warehouseman from Liverpool. He came down to the game on a supporters’ coach and left his friends to enter the ground alone.
Nicholas Peter Joynes, 27. A married draughtsman from Liverpool. He took a minibus to the ground with friends, one of whom, Francis McAllister, also died. The remainder of their group had decided not to venture too far into the ground when they saw how crowded the enclosure was.
Martin Wild, Michael Kelly and Nicholas Joynes
Nicholas Michael Hewitt, 16. A student from Leicester. He and his brother Carl died in the tragedy. The pair were last seen exiting a coach they caught to the ground together.
Patrick John Thompson, 35. A railway guard from Liverpool. Mr Thompson caught a train to the game with his two brothers, Kevin and Joe, with whom he entered the enclosure.
Paula Ann Smith, 26. Miss Smith, an avid Liverpool fan whose bedroom was covered in memorabilia, had travelled to the match alone after taking a coach laid on by Liverpool supporters’ club.
Nicholas Hewitt, Patrick Thompson and Paula Smith
Paul Anthony Hewitson, 26. A self-employed builder from Liverpool. Mr Hewitson had been given a lift in his friend’s van to Hillsborough stadium.
Paul David Brady, 21. A refrigeration engineer from Liverpool. Mr Brady had gone to the game with three friends, one of whom, Joseph McCarthy, was also killed.
Paul Brian Murray, 14. A student from Stoke-on-Trent. He had been taken to the fixture by his father and the pair had been knocked over by the force of the crush, which separated them.
Paul Hewitson, Paul Brady and Paul Murray
Paul Clark, 18. An apprentice electrician from Swanwick, Debyshire, Mr Clark went to Hillsborough with his father Kenneth and a friend. He was separated from his friend after a crowd surge pushed him towards a perimeter fence and out of sight.
Paul William Carlile, 19. A plasterer from Liverpool. Mr Carlile had travelled to Sheffield with two friends, before leaving the group to try and swap his terrace ticket for a seat ticket at a nearby pub.
Peter Andrew Harrison, 15. A schoolboy from Liverpool who went to the game with two friends. His friends had tickets for a different part of the ground and survived.
Paul Clark, Paul Carlile and Peter Harrison
Peter Andrew Burkett, 24. A married insurance clerk from Prenton, Birkenhead. Mr Burkett travelled to Sheffield from Liverpool with friends, including Jonathon Owens, who also died.
Peter Francis Tootle, 21. A labourer from Liverpool. He travelled to Hillsborough by car with his uncle Stephen and a friend, both of whom survived.
Peter McDonnell, 21. A bricklayer from Liverpool. He went to the game with a group of friends, all of whom survived.
Peter Burkett, Peter Tootle and Peter McDonnell
Peter Reuben Thompson, 30. An engineer from Wigan. Mr Thompson travelled alone to the game in his company car.
Philip Hammond, 14. A student from Liverpool. He got to the stadium by coach and entered the stadium with friends. He was swept out of sight by the crowd and they did not see him again.
Philip John Steele, 15. A student from Merseyside. Mr Steele travelled with his parents and brother Brian, with whom he entered the stadium.
Peter Thompson, Philip Hammond and Philip Steele
Raymond Thomas Chapman, 50. A married fitter from Birkenhead who drove to the ground with two friends, one of whom, Thomas Fox, was also killed that day.
Richard Jones, 25. An office worker from Allerton, Liverpool, who had gone to the game with his sister and his girlfriend Tracey, who also died.
Roy Harry Hamilton, 34. A married railway technician from Liverpool. Mr Hamilton had driven to Sheffield with his stepson and brother-in-law, who survived the ordeal.
Raymond Chapman, Richard Jones and Roy Hamilton
Sarah Louise Hicks, 19. A student from Pinner, Middlesex. She had gone to the game with her parents and her sister Victoria, who was also killed.
Simon Bell, 17. A YTS trainee from Liverpool. Mr Bell was killed at the stadium after travelling by car with his friend and his friend’s father. Upon arriving at Hillsborough, he had entered the stands with some friends, several of whom also died, before being swept away in the crush.
Stephen Paul Copoc, 20. A landscape gardener from Liverpool. Mr Copoc travelled to the game by coach with two friends, both of whom survived.
Sarah Hicks, Simon Bell and Stephen Copoc
Stephen Francis Harrison, 31. A driver from Liverpool. Mr Harrison had gone to the game with his brother Gary, who also died.
Stephen Francis O’Neill, 17. A student and cable jointer’s mate from Merseyside. Mr O’Neill was taken to the game by his father and shared a car with his uncle David Hawley, who also died.
Steven Joseph Robinson, 17. An apprentice auto-electrician from Bootle, Liverpool. He travelled to the game with friends and had aspirations of joining Merseyside Police at the time of his death.
Stephen Harrison, Stephen O’Neill and Steven Robinson
David Steven Brown, 25. A machine operator from Wrexham. Mr Brown attended the semi-final fixture with his brother Andrew, who survived. He left behind his wife Sarah, who was six months pregnant with his daughter at the time.
Stuart Paul William Thompson, 17. An apprentice joiner from Liverpool. He travelled to the game with his brother and some friends by car.
Thomas Anthony Howard, 14. A schoolboy from Runcorn, Cheshire. Known as Tommy, he travelled to the ground with his father Thomas, who also died.
David Brown, Stuart Thompson and Thomas Howard Jnr
Thomas Howard, 39. A chemical process worker from Runcorn, Cheshire who had taken his son to the game, along with a party of friends. His son, also Thomas, was another victim of the tragedy. Mr Howard was last seen saying something about his son repeatedly during the crush, before losing consciousness.
Thomas Steven Fox, 21 A production worker from Birkenhead. He had come to the game with two friends, including fellow victim Raymond Chapman.
Tracey Elizabeth Cox, 23. A student from Wiltshire who had gone to the stadium with her boyfriend Richard Jones, who also died, and his sister Stephanie Jones, who survived.
Thomas Howard, Thomas Fox and Tracey Cox
Victoria Jane Hicks, 15. A student from Pinner, Middlesex and the youngest female victim of the Hillsborough disaster. She died standing alongside her sister Sarah, after both were taken to the game by their parents, who survived.
Vincent Michael Fitzsimmons, 34. A moulding technician from Wigan. Mr Fitzsimmons had got a coach to the game with three friends, who survived the disaster.
William Roy Pemberton, 23. A student from Liverpool. He was accompanied by his father, also William, to Sheffield by coach. His father travelled with him to keep him company, but did not attend the game.
Victoria Hicks, Vincent Fitzsimmons and William Pemberton