Hillsborough inquests: Father was 'powerless to help'
- 25 April 2014
- From the section Liverpool
A father was "powerless to help his son when he was most needed" as he saw the Hillsborough disaster unfold, an inquest has heard.
Jimmy Aspinall "could only watch from the side pen" near the crush, a family statement said.
The inquest jury in Warrington heard James Aspinall, 18, was one of 96 people to die in the tragedy.
The statement, written by his mother Margaret Aspinall, said a "darkness fell" on the family in 1989.
Mrs Aspinall, chair of the Hillsborough Family Support Group, had her statement read out by her son David.
'Reclaim my brother'
He told the coroner: "A darkness fell over our family on April 15, 1989. It's only being here now, being allowed to describe what a decent human being James was, that it's finally given our family a shard of light in to that darkness."
James, who worked as a clerk at a shipping firm on Merseyside, travelled to the game by coach with a friend, Graham John Wright, who also died. His father travelled separately.
Jurors have been listening to background statements about how the Hillsborough disaster affected individual families.
A statement about Michael Kelly, 39, was read by his brother Steve.
He said: "In death he became body number 72, also the last to be claimed by his family, yet another statistic. His name was Michael David Kelly.
"I want to remove that sequence of numbers from him. I'm here today to reclaim my brother."
He told the jury his brother was "a real man, a father, son, brother and friend".
'Reunited with son'
Sue Roberts, sister of Graham, 24, paid tribute to the "family, friends and survivors" of Hillsborough who have died since 1989.
She said Graham was planning to marry his fiancée in 1990, they had chosen a house to buy and were due to sign a contract.
Ms Roberts, secretary of the Hillsborough Family Support Group, said: "Both my parents are now reunited with their son which, sadly since his death, was all they ever wanted."
Peter Harrison, a 15-year-old schoolboy from Liverpool, was described by his mother Patricia Harrison.
In a statement read by a lawyer, she said her son received a Liverpool season ticket for Christmas, which was buried with him.
She said: "What happened was terrible. But we all try to remember the good times we had with Peter. I often go to this room which still has his bed and bedside table."
Karen Staniford read a statement about her brother Gary Church, 19. He was a joiner who lived with his family in Seaforth.
She described him as "typical little boy" who enjoyed football and a "hard worker" who often did 14-hour days.
Ms Staniford said: "To this day I live just a few doors from the home my family and I shared with Gary as we were growing up and each day I look out of my window expecting Gary to come home".
In a further statement, Tracey Phelan spoke about the effect of losing her brother Paul Hewitson, 26, from Liverpool.
She said: "Each year as April 15 drew near we would see our mum and dad's sadness increase and the grief that was so clearly etched on to our mum's face became more apparent.
"Her heart was broken and remained broken for the rest of her life. Paul was the apple of his mother's eye. He was the light of her life."
Paul Murray got tickets for the game for his 14th birthday - just three days before the disaster.
When they came in the post he leapt into the air shouting "This is the best day of my life", his mother Edna told the inquest.
The church choirboy from Stoke-on-Trent supported the Reds because his grandfather was a Liverpudlian. His old schools have named their football competitions after him.
'Belonged to me'
Kevin Tyrrell, 15, from Runcorn was a "football mad" teenager, his father Frank Tyrrell said in a statement read by the boy's uncle.
He was having trials for Tranmere Rovers and played in their youth team.
His father added: "In the early hours of 16th April 1989, after identifying Kevin, as I went to touch my son I was told that I couldn't as he now belonged to the coroner.
"He didn't. He belonged to me and my wife and he was Gary and Donna's brother and to his aunties, uncles, cousins and friends he was Tizzer."
The daughter of Henry Burke, 47, told the jury how she wished she could have held his hand when he was lying on the pitch, "like he had held my hand through my life".
Christine Burke said the father of three, a builder from Liverpool, was "old school" and they were brought up to have manners and respect for others.
She added: "He was always there for us to protect us, guide us and advise us".
'Upsetting and uplifting'
Philip Steele, 15, from Southport, had gone to the match with his father Les.
His mother Dolores said her husband, who has since died, never came to terms with the fact that he was at Hillsborough but was not able to save his son.
She added: "My first thought each morning is of Philip as well as the last thought at night. When I think of our lovely son his laughter rings in my ears."
Peter Burkett, 24, from Birkenhead, was a kind and gentle young man, his sister Lesley Roberts said.
Her brother, who worked as an insurance clerk in Liverpool, had walked her down the aisle on her wedding day five months before he died.
She added: "When he smiled it warmed your body through to your soul."
A statement from David Benson's mother was read out to the jury. The 22-year-old from Warrington was working as a rep for a timber company when he died.
Mr Benson was a young father at the time of his death and if he had lived "would now be a grandfather".
Gloria Benson added: "To this day David is sorely missed."
At the end of today's hearing the coroner, Lord Justice Goldring, addressing the jury said: "It's been both very upsetting and yet an uplifting day, has it not?"
The inquests, set to last a year, were ordered after new evidence revealed by the Hillsborough Independent Panel led to the original inquest verdicts being quashed.
The hearing was adjourned until Monday.