Jury Verdict: Hillsborough’s 96 victims ‘unlawfully killed’

The jury at the new inquests into the Hillsborough disaster have said the 96 people who died at an FA Cup semi-final in April 1989 were unlawfully killed.

A panel of six women and three men gave their decision at an emotionally-charged court hearing in Warrington for the conclusion of the longest jury proceedings in British legal history.

Families and survivors from the Hillsborough disaster have campaigned for justice for the victims, arguing failures by police and other organizations, and that claims of misbehavior by Liverpool fans were designed to deflect blame.

The jury had been told to answer a questionnaire of 14 questions, as well as record the time and cause of death for each of the Liverpool fans who died at the game against Nottingham Forest.

Police errors “caused or contributed to” the dangerous situation that developed on the day of the Hillsborough disaster, the jury concluded.

The coroner, Sir John Goldring, had directed the jury in his summing up that they had to 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”.

The 96 victims – aged 10-67 and including 26 parents and 37 teenagers – died following a crush in the central “pens” of the Leppings Lane end at Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough ground.

South Yorkshire police denied any mistakes were made and claimed they had been overwhelmed by drunk, late and ticketless Liverpool fans.

Lord Justice Taylor’s official report in August 1989 blamed police for their mismanagement on the day and criticized them for blaming supporters.

The families have battled ever since to argue against the police’s case and to gain justice for the failures that caused the deaths.

The first inquest, held in Sheffield between November 1990 and March 1991, saw a jury return a verdict of accidental death – something the families and survivors have campaigned against for over two decades.

Three judges overturned that inquest in December 2012, following the publication of a report by the Hillsborough Independent Panel.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission are still conducting an investigation into possible criminal offences committed by police officers and others leading to the 96 deaths.

It is also looking into allegations of perjury and perverting the course of justice by police officers in their quest to blame supporters.