Liverpool

Hillsborough trial: 'The scene was set for failure'

Graham Mackrell and David Duckenfield Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Graham Mackrell (left) and David Duckenfield deny the charges against them

Jurors at the trial of Hillsborough match commander David Duckenfield have heard how "the scene was almost literally set" for failure.

Prosecutors said the ground's safety certificate had not been updated or amended since it was granted in 1979 - a decade before the disaster.

Mr Duckenfield, 74, denies the gross negligence manslaughter of 95 Liverpool fans.

Ex-Sheffield Wednesday secretary Graham Mackrell, 69, denies safety breaches.

Richard Matthews QC told Preston Crown Court: "Few of those involved with the safety certificate appear to have performed their function diligently."

'Out of date'

The stadium safety certificate was "very out of date" by 1989, the jury was told.

The arrangements at the FA Cup semi-final on 15 April 1989 meant 10,100 Liverpool fans had to get through seven turnstiles at the Leppings Lane end of the ground, the court heard.

Image copyright Operation Resolve
Image caption The jury was shown images of the police control box overlooking the terraces

Mr Matthews told the jury the Crown's case was that "the risk of death was obvious, serious and present throughout the failings of David Duckenfield to show reasonable care".

He said it was an "extraordinary failure" for Mr Duckenfield not to have personal knowledge of the potential confining points and hazards to safe entry at the stadium.

Earlier, the jury was given a virtual tour of the stadium and shown the view from inside the police control box.

Prosecutors showed what would have been on each of the television screens in front of Mr Duckenfield and his team on 15 April 1989.

Mr Matthews said the jury would hear from expert John Cutlack who estimated the capacity figure for the Leppings Lane terrace, where the fatal crush happened, should have been 5,426, rather than 7,200.

The jury was shown a video of an FA Cup semi final at Hillsborough in 1981 between Spurs and Wolves where the terraces became too full and the crowd was allowed to sit on the edge of the pitch.

Mr Matthews said the court would hear evidence of police blocking access to the terrace during that match and stopping any more spectators from entering during the game.

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Media captionHillsborough trial: Jury shown police view of stadium

Mr Duckenfield, of Ferndown, Dorset, is accused in relation to the deaths of 95 people who were in the crowd at Sheffield Wednesday's ground for the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.

The retired chief superintendent was South Yorkshire Police's match commander for the game.

Former Sheffield Wednesday club secretary Mr Mackrell is charged with contravening the stadium's safety certificate and a health and safety offence.

Mr Mackrell was the club's designated safety officer for the Hillsborough stadium.

The 96 victims

Image caption The 96 people who lost their lives in the Hillsborough disaster

Jurors have been told 96 fans were killed as a result of a crush in pens at the Leppings Lane end of the ground.

Of those, 94 died on the same day.

The youngest of the victims had been 10-year-old Jon-Paul Gilhooley.

Lee Nicol, 14, died two days later and Tony Bland, who suffered "terrible brain damage" was in a permanent vegetative state until his death in March 1993, jurors heard.

Under the law at the time, there can be no prosecution for the death of Mr Bland, as he died more than a year and a day after his injuries were caused.

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