Hillsborough jury retires to consider verdicts in trial of match commander

The jury in the trial of Hillsborough match commander David Duckenfield has retired to consider its verdicts.

The six men and six women were sent out at 10.51am on Monday after 10 weeks of the trial at Preston Crown Court.

Judge Sir Peter Openshaw told them: “You are under no pressure of time whatsoever. You can and should take just as long as you want or need.”

Duckenfield, 74, denies the gross negligence manslaughter of 95 Liverpool fans who died in the disaster at the FA Cup semi-final on April 15, 1989.

Ninety-six men, women and children died in the fatal crush on the Leppings Lane terrace.

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

Retired chief superintendent Duckenfield is standing trial alongside former Sheffield Wednesday club secretary Graham Mackrell, who denies failing to discharge his duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>Former Sheffield Wednesday club secretary Graham Mackrell (Peter Byrne/PA)</figcaption>
Former Sheffield Wednesday club secretary Graham Mackrell (Peter Byrne/PA)

It is alleged Mackrell, 69, failed to take care as safety officer particularly in respect of ensuring turnstiles were of such number to admit fans at a rate where there were no unduly large crowds waiting for admission.

The court has heard there were seven turnstiles for the 10,100 Liverpool fans with standing tickets for the match against Nottingham Forest.

Duckenfield, who was promoted to the role less than three weeks before the disaster, gave the order to open exit gates to the ground after crowds built up outside.

More than 2,000 fans entered the ground after the gate was opened, with many making their way down the tunnel to the central pens of the terrace, where the fatal crush happened.

The judge has previously told the jury to be “dispassionate” and “objective” when considering its verdicts.

He said: “The death of 96 spectators, many of whom were very young, is a profound human tragedy attended by much sadness and anger which for many is as raw today as it was 30 years ago.

“Understandably, and probably inevitably, there have been times during the trial of heightened emotion and distress of which you will have been keenly aware.

“But, as you go about your duty to strive to deliver verdicts according to the evidence you must try and put aside your emotions and sympathies and to decide the case after an objective and dispassionate review of the evidence.”

- Press Association

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