Hillsborough trial: David Duckenfield had 'ultimate responsibility'

David Duckenfield arriving at courtImage source, PA
Image caption,
Match commander David Duckenfield denies the gross negligence manslaughter of 95 fans

Hillsborough match commander David Duckenfield had "ultimate responsibility" and should have made "lifesaving decisions", a jury heard.

Prosecutor Richard Matthews QC said Mr Duckenfield's duty was to have thought about danger and "problem areas".

On trial at Preston Crown Court, the 74-year-old denies gross negligence manslaughter of 95 Liverpool fans, on 15 April 1989.

But Mr Matthews told jurors Mr Duckenfield was not being singled out.

"Other police officers may also have made errors, have failed, but he was the one with the overview.... the person in charge who had both the authority and should have had the knowledge to make what were key lifesaving decisions that were necessary in moments of peril and danger," he said in his closing speech.

He said the jury should consider what a reasonably competent match commander should have done and should have known by the time of the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.

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

He said: "Quite frankly it may be capable of being reduced to this, the failures, the breaches that are alleged against him are failures that he admitted when he gave evidence on oath at the Warrington inquests in 2015."

He said bad stadium design at the Sheffield Wednesday ground meant the "stage was set" for the disaster, but the features would have been "readily identifiable" when Mr Duckenfield, of Ferndown, Dorset, was promoted to the role of match commander, less than three weeks before the match.

Mr Matthews said anyone with a reasonable degree of care would have recognised the risk of overcrowding in the central pens of the Leppings Lane terrace.

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.

Former Sheffield Wednesday club secretary Graham Mackrell, 69, denies failing to discharge a duty under the Health and Safety Act.

The trial continues.

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