Hillsborough inquest: 96 Liverpool fans were ‘unlawfully killed’, jury rules

Relatives of the victims who died in the Hillsborough disaster, outside the Hillsborough Inquest in

Relatives of the victims who died in the Hillsborough disaster, outside the Hillsborough Inquest in Warrington, where the inquest jury concluded that the 96 Liverpool fans who died in the Hillsborough disaster were unlawfully killed. Photo: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire - Credit: PA

The 96 Liverpool fans who died in the Hillsborough disaster were unlawfully killed, the inquest's jury has concluded.

Overcrowding at the 1989 FA Cup semi-final at Hillsborough. The tragedy claimed 96 lives. Photo: Dav

Overcrowding at the 1989 FA Cup semi-final at Hillsborough. The tragedy claimed 96 lives. Photo: David Giles/PA Wire - Credit: PA

The jurors were told they could only reach that determination if they were sure of four 'essential' matters concerning the deaths at the 1989 FA Cup semi-final.

They had to be convinced that overall match commander Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield owed a duty of care to those who died in the disaster, and that he was in breach of that duty of care.

Thirdly, they would need to be satisfied that his breach of duty caused the deaths and, fourthly, that it amounted to 'gross negligence'.

Supporters arrive for the last memorial service to be held at Anfield, Liverpool, to mark 27 years t

Supporters arrive for the last memorial service to be held at Anfield, Liverpool, to mark 27 years to the day since the Hillsborough tragedy claimed 96 lives on April 15 . Photo: Peter Byrne/PA Wire - Credit: PA

They concluded it was unlawful killing by a 7-2 majority.


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The conclusion was greeted with sobbing and cheers at the hearing in Warrington.

The jury also ruled that fan behaviour did not cause or contribute to the tragedy.

Photo dated 22/04/1989 of fans gathering at Anfield for a ceremony of remembrance following the Hill

Photo dated 22/04/1989 of fans gathering at Anfield for a ceremony of remembrance following the Hillsborough disaster. Photo: PA/PA Wire - Credit: PA

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And they answered yes to the question: 'Was there any error or omission in police planning or preparation which caused or contributed to the dangerous situation that developed on the day of the match?'

The Hillsborough disaster unfolded during Liverpool's cup tie against Nottingham Forest on April 15 as thousands of fans were crushed at Sheffield Wednesday's ground.

Mr Duckenfield gave the order at 2.52pm to open exit Gate C in Leppings Lane, allowing around 2,000 fans to flood into the already packed central pens behind the goal.

Former chief superintendent David Duckenfield in 1989. Photo: PA/PA Wire

Former chief superintendent David Duckenfield in 1989. Photo: PA/PA Wire - Credit: PA

The jury also found that both the police and the ambulance service caused or contributed to the loss of lives in the disaster by an error or omission after the crush in the west terrace had begun to develop.

After the key conclusions were delivered, someone in court shouted 'God bless the jury'.

The jurors were given a round of applause as they left the courtroom.

Former chief superintendent David Duckenfield in 1989. Photo: PA/PA Wire

Former chief superintendent David Duckenfield in 1989. Photo: PA/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Lawyers acting for relatives of the victims said the jury's conclusions had completely vindicated the bereaved families' tireless 27-year fight for justice.

The jury of six women and three men gave their decisions on an emotionally charged day for relatives of the 96, many of whom were at court for the conclusion of the longest jury proceedings in British legal history.

Last Wednesday the jury indicated to the court in Warrington that unanimous decisions had been reached on every question apart from question six - unlawful killing.

A still from a video of people climbing over the fence at the Leppings Lane end of Hillsborough Stad

A still from a video of people climbing over the fence at the Leppings Lane end of Hillsborough Stadium, Sheffield, which was shown to the inquest jury in Warrington into the deaths of the 96 Liverpool fans. Photo: Hillsborough Inquests/PA Wire - Credit: PA

They were given a majority direction yesterday and quickly indicated they had reached a majority decision on the outstanding question.

The fresh inquests began on March 31, 2014, in a specially built courtroom in Warrington.

The 1991 accidental deaths verdicts from the original inquests were quashed following the 2012 Hillsborough Independent Panel report after a long campaign by the families of the dead.

Relatives of Peter McDonnell, who died in the Hillsborough disaster, outside the Hillsborough Inques

Relatives of Peter McDonnell, who died in the Hillsborough disaster, outside the Hillsborough Inquest in Warrington, where the inquest jury concluded that the 96 Liverpool fans who died in the Hillsborough disaster were unlawfully killed. Photo: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Dozens of relatives of the victims have attended each of the more than 300 days the court has sat at Bridgewater Place on the Cheshire town's Birchwood Park business park.

At the start of the inquests, the coroner said none of the victims should be blamed for their deaths.

Emotional tributes to each of the 96 were then delivered by family members in the form of personal portraits.

The victims' families hugged each other and broke down in tears after emerging from the court.

One man shouted 'Justice' while two men held up a red scarf that also read 'Justice'.

Others made emotional phone calls to loved ones. Two women jumped up and down overcome with emotion as they embraced.

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