A jury has found that the 96 Liverpool supporters who died during the Hillsborough disaster in 1989 were unlawfully killed.
The six women and three men finished their deliberations on Monday, having retired to consider more than two years of evidence during the inquiry into the events of the FA Cup match on April 15, 1989 between Nottingham Forest and Liverpool.
The decision comes after years of campaigning from bereaved families and the Hillsborough Justice Campaign, which sought the disclosure of the true causes behind the tragedy.
Coroner John Golding said he would accept a majority verdict on whether the 96 individuals were unlawfully killed, after the jury unanimously agreed on answers to a further 13 questions concerning the disaster. A verdict of seven to two was passed.
The jury also determined that the behaviour of the fans at the stadium did not cause or contribute to the disaster.
Jurors were told that they must be satisfied that the South Yorkshire police chief superintendent in command at the match, David Duckenfield, “was responsible for manslaughter by gross negligence of those 96 people” in order to reach a verdict of unlawful killing.
To prove gross negligence, the jury had to be sure that Duckenfield’s breach of care towards the people attending the match “was so bad, having regard to the risk of death involved, as in your view to amount to a criminal act or omission”.
Jurors decided that defects in Sheffield Wednesday’s planning for the game could have contributed to the disaster, though they said staff on the day did not make a mistake in their conduct. They also agreed that the police and ambulance services made errors in their response to the incident, which could have contributed to the loss of life.
To the question of whether the behaviour of supporters had caused the dangerous situation at the turnstiles, the jury responded ‘no’. The jury also deemed that the stadium structural engineers should have done more to identify and advise on any unsafe or unsatisfactory features at Hillsborough.
A total of 96 people were fatally injured in the crush in the overcrowded Leppings Lane end, while 766 were reported to have suffered injuries.
Those killed were aged between 10 and 67, and included 37 teenagers and 26 parents.
The latest inquest was opened after high court judges in 2012 quashed a verdict of accidental death, which was reached following an initial investigation between 1990 and 1991.
Families of the victims campaigned for the release of documents which could offer detailed information on the events, including whether any of the victims could have been saved had more prompt medical treatment been offered. The Hillsborough Independent Panel concluded in 2012 that no Liverpool fans were responsible for the disaster, citing the main cause as “a lack of police control”.
Prime Minister David Cameron issued an apology on behalf of the British government following the panel’s conclusion, after the 2012 report showed police and emergency services had made “strenuous attempts” to blame the disaster on the Liverpool fans.
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