The inquests into the Hillsborough disaster concluded today, with a jury finding that the 96 victims were unlawfully killed.
The jury had been told by the coroner, Sir John Goldring, that in order to reach a conclusion of ‘unlawful killing’ they would need to be satisfied that the senior police officer in charge of the match, Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield “was responsible for manslaughter by gross negligence of those 96 people”. This required them to find that he had breached his duty of care to the fans, and that the breach was “so bad, having regard to the risk of death involved, as in your view to amount to a criminal act or omission”.
The jury also concluded that the behaviour of fans on the day did not cause or contribute to the disaster.
The Crown Prosecution Service has confirmed that it will now formally consider whether any criminal charges should be brought.
The inquests lasted over two years making them the longest-running in history. Evidence was heard from more than 500 witnesses and thousands of documents were considered.
The original inquest in 1991 reached a conclusion of ‘accidental death’. Following a tireless campaign by the families of the victims, that decision was quashed in 2012 and new inquests were ordered.
Lawrence Barker, Jules Carey and Najma Rasul of Bindmans LLP acted for the family of John McBrien who was among those who tragically lost their lives in the disaster, on 15th April 1989.
John was only 18 when he died and was due to start at Liverpool University later that summer. His mother, Mrs Hope, described him as “handsome, kind, generous, charismatic and a remarkably mature young man”. In describing the impact of his death, she said, “We struggled to come to terms with what had happened. John was so very special to all of us. His death was completely devastating to our family.”
Lawrence Barker said:
After 27 years, the families of the victims might now start to feel that some justice has finally been done. We would not be here today were it not for the incredible strength and fight shown by the families in the many years following the disaster, but it is a fight they should never have been forced to have.
The family were also represented by barristers Heather Williams QC and Caoilfhionn Gallagher, both of Doughty Street Chambers.