Hillsborough inquests jury to deliver verdict


The jury in the Hillsborough inquests will return to court today to deliver their conclusions into the deaths of 96 fans at Britain's worst sporting disaster.

The jury of six women and three men will give their decisions from 11am, on what is expected to be a highly charged day for relatives of the 96, many of whom will be at court for the conclusion of the longest jury proceedings in British legal history.

Jurors will give their conclusions having answered a general questionnaire of 14 questions as well as a record of the time and cause of death for each of the Liverpool fans, 27 years and 12 days since the disaster on April 15 1989.

These include questions about the police planning before the game, stadium safety, events on the day, the emergency services' response to the disaster and whether the fans were unlawfully killed.

Last Wednesday the jury indicated to the court in Warrington that unanimous decisions had already been made on every question apart from question six.

Question six asks: "Are you satisfied, so that you are sure, that those who died in the disaster were unlawfully killed?"

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

Before they were sent out on April 6 to start their deliberations, jurors were told they could only answer "yes" to question six if they were sure that 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".

The hearings have been ongoing for more than two years, with the jury having heard evidence from around 1,000 witnesses.

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

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 Hillsborough tragedy unfolded during Liverpool's FA Cup semi-final tie against Nottingham Forest as thousands of fans were crushed on Sheffield Wednesday's Leppings Lane terrace.

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.

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.