A jury in the trial of Hillsborough match commander David Duckenfield have failed to reach a verdict on gross negligence manslaughter.
The retired chief superintendent, 74, was accused of causing the deaths 95 Liverpool fans at the FA Cup semi-final in April 1989.
It was due to his ‘extraordinarily bad failings’ as a match commander that the spectators became crushed in the Sheffield stadium, the jury was told.
The court heard an exit gate was opened to relieve crowds outside the turnstiles – allowing more than 2,500 fans to enter the stadium and head down the tunnel to the already full central pens.
In evidence presented from the 2015 Hillsborough inquests, Duckenfield admitted several failures and accepted he froze as the disaster unfolded.
But his defence lawyer Benjamin Myers QC argued that many of the answers given in the hearing were from ‘hindsight’ and taken out of context.
Duckenfield denied the charges against him, arguing that he had done ‘his best in very difficult circumstances’ during the disaster.
Mr Myers told the jury the disaster was brought about by a combination of factors including bad stadium design, poor planning and some aspects of the behaviour of the crowd and the police.
He said that Duckenfield had become a ‘target of blame’, adding: ‘It is not right or fair to single him out in this way.
‘He was put in a position of being the match commander less than three weeks before the match with no previous experience of anything like this before.’
The jury failed to reach a verdict and have now been discharged.
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.
Former Sheffield Wednesday club secretary Graham Mackrell, 69, was found guilty of failing to discharge his duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act.