Hillsborough jury fail to reach verdict over top cop’s involvement in 95 deaths

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Hillsborough jury fail to reach verdict over top cop’s involvement in 95 deaths

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.

PRESTON, ENGLAND - APRIL 01: Former Police Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield arrives at Preston Crown Court during his trial, charged with the manslaughter, by gross negligence, of 95 Liverpool fans who died in the Hillsborough disaster on April 1, 2019 in Preston, England. The jury are deliberating for the sixth day after 10 weeks of the trial at Preston Crown Court to consider their verdict. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

David Duckenfield has continuously denied the charges against him (Picture: Getty Images)

Handout photo dated 15/04/89 issued by Operation Resolve of Trevor Hicks on the terrace at Hillsborough, which has been shown to the jury in the trial of match commander David Duckenfield and former Sheffield Wednesday club secretary Graham Mackrell. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Monday February 25, 2019. Hillsborough match commander Duckenfield is accused of the manslaughter by gross negligence of 95 Liverpool supporters at the 1989 FA Cup semi-final, and former Sheffield Wednesday club secretary Mackrell, is charged with contravening the Hillsborough stadium's safety certificate and a health and safety offence. See PA story COURTS Hillsborough. Photo credit should read: Operation Resolve/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.

The Hillsborough disaster killed 96 people (Picture: PA)

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.

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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.

File photo dated 15/4/1989 of Liverpool supporters climbing to safety during the Liverpool v Nottingham Forest FA Cup semi-final football match at Hillsborough which led to the deaths of 96 people. A jury for the trial of the Hillsborough match commander David Duckenfield at Preston Crown Court is expected to be selected on Tuesday after 68 potential jurors were excused. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Tuesday January 15, 2019. The retired South Yorkshire Police officer denies the gross negligence manslaughter of 95 Liverpool supporters at the 1989 FA Cup semi-final. See PA story COURTS Hillsborough. Photo credit should read: David Giles/PA Wire

Too many people were allowed to enter the already full central pens (Picture: PA)

Former Sheffield Wednesday club secretary Graham Mackrell, who is charged with contravening the Hillsborough stadium's safety certificate and a health and safety offence at the 1989 FA Cup semi-final, arriving at Preston Crown Court. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday April 1, 2019. See PA story COURTS Hillsborough. Photo credit should read: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

Graham Mackrell, was charged with contravening the Hillsborough stadium’s safety certificate (Picture: PA)

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.

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