Liverpool

Hillsborough disaster: What happened

At the inquests into the death of 96 people who died in the Hillsborough disaster, Coroner Lord Justice Goldring outlined what happened on the day.

On 15 April 1989, thousands of Liverpool and Nottingham Forest fans were in Hillsborough for the FA Cup semi-final at Sheffield Wednesday's stadium.

The weather was good and a capacity crowd of 54,000 was expected. Some fans socialised elsewhere before the game, but as the 3pm kick-off approached, numbers arriving at the ground increased.

2.15pm- 2.30pm: Crowds started to gather at the Leppings Lane stand - for Liverpool supporters - with pressure building around the turnstiles and gates. There were reports of some people getting through "winded and distressed", Lord Goldring told the jury.

Image copyright Hillsborough Inquests/PA

2.47pm: Police Superintendent Roger Marshall, responsible for the Liverpool fans' section, asked for exit gates A, B and C to be opened to let people to enter the ground to "ease the pressure", the coroner said.

Around 150 fans were able to get in when one of the exit gates was temporarily opened for somebody to be removed. Supt Marshall made two more requests before Hillsborough police chief David Duckenfield eventually decided to open the gates - although he chose not to delay kick off because he thought it was too late.

The jury was told he said: "If there is likely to be a serious injury or death I've no option but to open the gates. Open the gates."

Around 2,000 supporters entered the stadium in the five minutes that one of the three gates was opened.

The tunnel into the Leppings Lane stand became more crowded as fans entered the ground - people in front were driven forward, some described being lifted off their feet. Fans spoke of pressure like a train moving them onwards, the coroner told the jury.

The number of fans in the tunnel increased the overcrowding in the two central pens, pushing those at the front up against the steel mesh perimeter fence. "Many fans were in serious distress," Lord Justice Goldring said.

Police Constable Smith tried to make contact with the police control room for permission to open the gates on to the pitch, but he could not get through.

He decided to open the gates anyway, but this did not relieve the pressure.

Image copyright Hillsborough Inquests/PA

3.04pm: "Around the time of the kick-off, a terrible crush developed in two pens, within the standing terrace at the west end of the stadium - the Leppings Lane end," Lord Justice Goldring said.

The crowd in pens three and four surged forward after Liverpool player Peter Beardsley hit the crossbar on the Nottingham goal at the other end of the pitch - the surge added to the crush on fans at the front, the jury heard.

A crush barrier broke in one of the pens.

3.05pm - 3.06pm: Superintendent Roger Greenwood ran on to the pitch to stop the match.

3pm - 3.20pm: Police and ambulance staff at the ground "began to appreciate the disaster which was unfolding", Lord Justice Goldring said.

One of the initial calls by police control to ambulance control said that there was "pushing and shoving" and that "a few ambulances" might be needed.

This was changed to a request for a fleet of ambulances, but the request was initially refused.

Image copyright Hillsborough Inquests/PA

3.12pm: Fans had started to be pulled out of pen three. Ambulance station officer Paul Eason told control he wanted to declare a major incident, but major incident procedures were not fully enacted.

The coroner said ambulance staff did not set up a triage system, used to assess how seriously people were hurt.

3.15pm: Mr Duckenfield told the-then chief executive of the Football Association Graham Kelly that one of the three gates that had been opened had been forced. But Lord Justice Goldring said there was no question of the gate having been forced.

Eighty eight of those who died were placed in the football club gymnasium for identification.

9.30pm: Polaroid photographs of the dead were put on a board at the entrance to the ground, the coroner said.

Lord Justice Goldring said the jury would have to consider a number of questions during the inquests, such as whether the order to open the gates should have been given, whether pens three and four were crowded at the time, and whether anything more should have been done to stop a dangerous situation developing.

"In answering those and other questions beware the wisdom of hindsight," he warned.

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