Wednesday, 24 Apr 2024

Hillsborough trial: Jury retires to consider David Duckenfield verdicts

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

The 12 jurors, made up of six men and six women, were sent out on Monday morning after a 10-week 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, a retired chief superintendent for South Yorkshire Police, is accused of the gross negligence manslaughter of 95 Liverpool fans who died in the crush on the Leppings Lane terrace at Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough stadium.

The disaster happened during the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest on 15 April 1989.

Duckenfield denies all charges.

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

Duckenfield is standing trial alongside former Sheffield Wednesday club secretary Graham Mackrell.

Mackrell denies failing to discharge his duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Benjamin Myers, who defended 74-year-old Duckenfield at Preston Crown Court, called him an “excellent police officer” who is “taking the blame for others”.

In his closing speech to the court last week, Mr Myers said that stadiums and the sport was plagued by hooliganism in the 70s and 80s and that it was a “world away” from football today.

The judge 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.”

He asked the jury to “put aside your emotions and sympathies” in order to deliver verdicts.

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