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Hillsborough trial: David Duckenfield found not guilty of manslaughter of Liverpool fans

December 5, 2019


how David duckenfield
trial left Hillsborough families distraught again victims relatives again
left to face claims that Liverpool fans contributed to tragedy at 1989 FA Cup
semi-final for the Hillsborough families whose 96 loved ones were killed so
horrifically at a televised football match on a sunny spring day in 1989 a 30
year battle for the truth and accountability has culminated in another
outcome they find impossible to accept they fought for 21 years against the
first inquest verdict of accidental death in 1991 finally seeing it quashed
in 2012 then in April 2016 the jury at the new inquests determined that the 96
people were unlawfully killed by the gross negligence manslaughter of the
South Yorkshire police officer in command CH Sept David duckenfield – a
criminal standard of proof yet now following a grim painful trial and
retrial at Preston Crown Court in which the families accused the judge of not
being impartial the jury at his prosecution has found him not guilty of
in effect the same offence gross negligence manslaughter for duckenfield
prosecution inevitably followed the inquests where he admitted in March 2015
that his multiple professional failings at the FA Cup semi-final between
Liverpool and Nottingham Forest on the 15th of April 1989 led to the deaths of
96 innocent men women and children the inquest jury based its unlawful killing
verdict on the clear direction of the coroner the senior former Court of
Appeal judge Sir John Goldring that they could reach it only if they were
satisfied that David duckenfield the match commander was responsible for the
manslaughter by gross negligence of those 96 people it also demolished the
toxic case made by the South Yorkshire Police after the disaster to blame the
victims those 24,000 people who had gone to Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough
ground to support Liverpool and been plunged into horror at the squalid
Leppings Lane end that campaign of blame was infamously
initiated by duckenfield himself who falsely blamed Liverpool supporters even
as people were dying from the crush in pens three and four of the Leppings Lane
Terrace asked what had happened by the Football Association’s chief executive
Graham Kelly duckenfield did not tell the truth that he had ordered exits to
be opened to allow a large number of people in quickly and alleviate a crush
at the turnstiles instead duckenfield told Kelly that Liverpool supporters had
forced a gate open at the new inquests duckenfield admitted that after exit
gate C was opened and more than two thousand people came in his own failure
to have them directed away from a tunnel which led to the crowded central pens
caused the lethal crush she also admitted that he had indeed lied at 3:15
p.m. on the day then again at a meeting of club directors at about 3:45 p.m. and
that it had been a terrible lie quickly relayed to the BBC at the match in
broadcast to the nation at 3:40 p.m. his lie laid the foundation for years of
victim blaming by police that followed allegations that large numbers of
Liverpool supporters arrived late drunk loutish and without tickets and tried to
force their way in the new inquests jury heard all the evidence over more than
two exhaustive years the longest case ever heard in British legal history they
concluded in their verdicts that the behavior of those paying spectators
looking forward to supporting Kenny Dalglish as brilliant team did not
contribute at all to the disaster yet despite those harde one legal findings
in preston the effort began again on behalf of duckenfield to reverse the
inquests determinations over the many weeks in the gloom of downstairs court
number one ducking fields barrister Benjamin Myers QC indignantly denied any
failings at all and even denied that duckin Fields admission of failures on
oath four years earlier were really admissions at all arguing they had been
taken out of context Myers faced a defense mostly on arguing
it was bitterly and deeply unfair to be prosecuting duckenfield when other
factors were to blame including the safety flaws of the Leppings Lane
Terrace and it’s vile pens defective police planned duckenfield
inherited and radios not working properly
and resurrecting the old allegations against the victims Myers also
criticized other police officers who had worked to ducking fields command
including one in speak Harry White whom duckenfield had explicitly said in his
evidence at the inquest si did not blame or criticize the hole in the heart of
these proceedings the question about the British legal system looming over every
miserable day for the families was why it allows and requires this established
truths determined by a jury on comprehensive evidence given on oath in
front of a senior judge a rape the Preston trials were marshaled by Sir
Peter Openshaw a veteran judge of the Criminal Court circuit in Lancashire
although the new jury was effectively deciding the same questions about the
same disaster Openshaw gave them the required legal direction that previous
findings about which they were not informed anyway were quite irrelevant
because the rules and procedures were very different to a criminal trial so a
blank page was presented to a new jury as if no truths had been accepted over
thirty years through the families fight fury and an infinity of Tears repeatedly
Myers was on his feet alleging that Liverpool supporters had indeed arrived
late that many were without tickets and many had had a drink
that they pushed misbehaved refused to accede to police instructions and tried
to cheat their way into the ground in the adversarial system a defendant can
present any case to a court within the rules is applied by the judge and it is
up to the opponent here the Crown Prosecution Service to challenge them
the only evidence that counts as what the two opponents have presented in that
courtroom often in hasty responses the most glaring example of the departure
from established truths this can create came in the first trial which culminated
in a hung jury the CPS lead barrister richard matthews QC had decided not to
make much of ducking fields lie on the day except almost in passing the bare
fact that he said it this was a legal assessment that bewildered and
exasperated the families in openshaw’s summing up the judge suggested to the
jury that duckenfield had not in fact light after all he said that
duckenfield appeared to have genuinely formed the impression that supporters
had forced a gate and that given the circumstances it was not at all
surprising the jury was never told that duckenfield had actually admitted in
previous proceedings four years earlier that he had told a terrible lie on the
question of ducking fields experience there was consideration of large events
whose police operations he had commanded including a Billy Graham rally in a
Bruce Springsteen concert at Sheffield United’s Bramall Lane ground duckenfield
had acknowledged those at the inquests but explained they were different to the
football matches of the time referring to that OpenShot told the jury as
duckenfield said the atmosphere of those events and the kind of people attending
them were very different from those attending a semifinal Margaret aspinall
the chair of the Hillsborough family support group whose 18 year old son
James was one of the 96 people killed said family members hearing that were
devastated and considered the summing up one-sided she said I found it disgusting
like the judge was saying my lovely innocent son and all our 96 were a
different kind of people hooligans and their families even in death after 30
years in heated meetings over the summer many family members called on the CPS to
improve their performance and to apply for the judge to be replaced the CPS did
strengthen their case somewhat including by emphatically presenting duckin fields
lie in evidence this time but Mathew still left out large areas that had been
considered by the inquests jury crucially including whether other police
offices 1989 evidence was reliable he declined to challenge Openshaw
continuing as the trial judge when the retrial began on the 7th of october
Openshaw was in his position again on the raised wood paneled stage
duckenfield was in the courtroom not in a dock allocated for criminal defendants
the judge allowed this throughout explaining in a ruling that it was part
of making allowances for ducking fields post-traumatic stress disorder and
anxiety on October 24th the judge told the jury in some detail that duckenfield
had reported poorly with a chest infection
action including that he had driven himself to hospital although he had been
told to call an ambulance as a precaution it’s not his fault
poor chap Openshaw said that was followed by a direction to the jury that
if they thought duckenfield was not showing any emotion as they heard about
the horrific crush and his bereaved parents gave evidence about the loss of
their children it could be explained due to him suffering from PTSD the families
who have suffered endless grief and trauma for 30 years reacted with dismay
to these interventions and asked if an accused in a criminal trial would
normally be referred to as poor chap in his summing up of the evidence Openshaw
made a similar reference to the Bruce Springsteen concert and Billy Graham
rally telling the jury that duckenfield had said of them at the inquests the
nature and tone of the events and indeed the people who attended was completely
different from a semifinal she did take the jury through duckin Fields
admissions at the inquests but added that duckenfield had prefaced many of
them by saying he was conceding two failures only with the benefit of
hindsight he did not explain to the jury that the inquests barristers had sought
to break that down asking duckenfield if he accepted that he failed according to
how competent he should have been at the time Openshaw cited meyers argument that
the admissions had been wrung out of duckenfield over six days of questioning
but the judge did not explain that many of ducking Fields acknowledgments of
failure were in fact made on the first two days – Christina Lambert QC counsel
to the inquests nor that duckin fields acceptance that his own professional
failings led to the deaths of 96 innocent men women and children was made
to his own barrister John begs QC throughout the jury was told to remove
emotion from their consideration and very little was heard of the 96 people
themselves whose terrible deaths duckenfield was accused of causing aged
from ten to sixty seven sons daughters sisters brothers 25 fathers one mother
at the inquests their lives and personalities had been remembered by
their families with loving vivid personal statements in Preston the jury
was told almost nothing about them beyond their names being
read out at the beginning the families suffered their catastrophic loss while
also having to fight their way through the justice system against the lies for
the truth about how the ninety-six were killed that terrible day at the second
inquests they were granted exceptional funding by Teresa Mae’s home office so
for the only time had an army of their own lawyers who battled their way to
vindication here they were in the hands of the legal establishment watching a
stripped down framing of another new set of truths as if nothing had ever been
decided or admitted before in 30 years

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7 Comments

  • Reply Kevin Davies November 28, 2019 at 6:55 pm

    No surprise here the establishment of this country protects the establishment of this country and here is another example in the long list down the years of these bastards getting off. Respect to the 96 and their families.

  • Reply 5888max November 28, 2019 at 7:06 pm

    Mr Duckenfield  has been so unfairly persecuted for years with 3 ridiculous trails at vast public expense – thank  Goodness this is now settled,  the  family's of the dead now need to shut up their losses were a horrible accident caused by unruly Liverpool fans and incompetent policing , nobody meant them to die it is 3 decades ago and they need to stop looking for people to blame

  • Reply Darren Mcclean November 28, 2019 at 7:49 pm

    Fucking disgrace

  • Reply jon bond November 28, 2019 at 8:22 pm

    Would ye ever gway .
    Stop looking for people to blame.
    It was the supporters fault no 1 else's .
    Shits going on for years looking for people to blame.yere people killed yere people not this man

  • Reply g gg November 28, 2019 at 8:29 pm

    Let them all rest in peace pls.This was a accident like so much happened in this world.

  • Reply face the truth November 29, 2019 at 12:00 am

    I watched this tragedy unfold on tv and it truly is horrific but I see these pens horribly overcrowded and there is still thousands outside waiting to get in. I'm asking is it not a bit of fault with hundreds if not thousands not having tickets trying to get in to the match? Are we allowed to ask this question? Is there even a bit of blame with lfc fans? R.I.P. the 96 innocents

  • Reply Rose White November 29, 2019 at 6:47 am

    Good verdict!
    Now put the ground owners, insurers and council inspectors on trial for allowing what they knew would be a dangerous event to take place in a ground which was not fit for purpose!
    Hooliganism had been getting worse for many years until it climaxed at Hillsbrough.

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