Editor, UBM

April 25, 2016

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Hillsborough: Jury reaches decision on unlawful killing

A majority decision has been reached by the jury in the Hillsborough inquest, on whether 96 people were unlawfully killed.

The jury has been hearing evidence for the last two years and have been deliberating on the verdict since 6 April.

The conclusions will be formally returned tomorrow at 11am, but the forewoman said that at least seven of the nine jurors had reached agreement on the unlawful killing question in a 14-section questionnaire.

Of the questions, 13 had already reached unanimous conclusions, the final question asked whether the 96 were unlawfully killed, and a majority decision needed to be reached.

To answer yes, the jurors must be “sure” that Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield, who was in overall command of the police operation, was “responsible for the manslaughter by gross negligence” of those who died.

Jurors have already reached a decision about whether fans’ behaviour added to a dangerous situation outside the Sheffield stadium where 96 fans died as a result of a crush on the terraces occupied by Liverpool supporters who were attending the FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest on 15 April 1989.

Conclusions have also been reached about whether “errors or omissions” caused or contributed to the dangerous situation at the match and the crush on the terraces.

The coroner, who began summing up on 25 January, spoke to the jury for 26 days in total.

He laid out four steps jurors must be sure of to conclude the 96 were unlawfully killed:

  • That Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield owed a duty of care to the 96 who died
  • That he was in breach of that duty of care
  • That the breach of Mr Duckenfield’s duty of care caused the deaths
  • That the breach which caused the deaths amounted to “gross negligence”.

For the final point to be proved, the jury has to be sure the match commander’s breach in his duty of care was so bad it amounted to a criminal act or omission.

It must also be sure a “reasonably competent and careful” match commander in his position would have foreseen a “serious and obvious risk of death” to the supporters.

The conclusions of the longest running inquest in British legal history will be formally returned tomorrow at 11am.

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