Jury Fails To Reach Verdict In Trial Of Hillsborough Match Commander David Duckenfield

Just in.

The jury in the trial of Hillsborough match commander David Duckenfield has failed to reach a verdict on charges of the gross negligence manslaughter of 95 Liverpool fans in the 1989 football disaster.

The jury of six men and six women was discharged following eight days of deliberations, after the 10-week trial at Preston Crown Court.

Duckenfield, wearing a dark suit and lilac shirt with a purple tie, stood in court with with his arms folded and was expressionless as the judge spoke.

He had denied the charges.

The same jury today found former Sheffield Wednesday club secretary Graham Mackrell guilty of failing to discharge his duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) confirmed it will seek a retrial which could take place in September. The court also heard the defence team will make an application for a “stay of proceedings” to prevent this.

Margaret Aspinall, chairwoman of the Hillsborough Family Support Group, said due to the ongoing legal proceedings “we all have to be very, very careful what we say”.

She added: “We were all hoping we would have some sort of closure today and we haven’t. We have still got a long journey.”

In a joint statement, the Mayor of Liverpool City Region Steve Rotheram and Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham, said the families of those that died would be feeling “a mixture of frustration and vindication”.

They added: ”“We have been at their side over the years and seen the agony that the English judicial system has inflicted upon them.

“But we can at least say that today, at long last, someone has been held to account for what happened — a vindication of the long fought battle by families and campaigners for truth and justice.”

Liverpool Football Club echoed the statement, saying it “empathise[d] with the frustration shared by everyone affected by the Hillsborough tragedy that the outcome was not definitive”.

Duckenfield, 74, who was promoted to the role of match commander less than three weeks before the disaster, gave the order to open exit gates to the ground after crowds built up outside.

David Duckenfield, who was match commander at Hillsborough.
David Duckenfield, who was match commander at Hillsborough.

More than 2,000 fans entered the ground after the gate was opened, with many making their way down the tunnel to the central pens of the terrace, where the fatal crush happened.

Ninety-six men, women and children died in the fatal crush on the Leppings Lane terrace at the match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.

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

In a statement, CPS director Sue Hemming, said: “This trial, which relates to events from almost 30 years ago, has been incredibly complex and, after lengthy deliberations, the jury has found Graham Mackrell guilty but has been unable to reach a verdict in respect of David Duckenfield.”

She confirmed the prosecution would seek a retrial, and added that she was aware these developments “will be difficult” for the families of the Hillsborough victims.

“We have remained in regular contact with them throughout these proceedings, and spoke with those present in Preston and Liverpool before informing the court of our decision. We will meet with them shortly to answer any questions they have about the process.”


What's Hot