Liverpool

Hillsborough inquests: Fans 'stopped from escaping crush'

Hillsborough disaster Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Ninety-six Liverpool fans died as a result of the 1989 terrace crush

A Liverpool fan who survived the Hillsborough disaster has described watching as a police officer tried to push his brother back into the crush.

Terence Mills was at the 1989 FA Cup semi-final with his brother George, who was trying to escape from pen four.

Stephen Ellis, Sheffield Wednesday's photographer, said police stopped fans climbing over the front of the pens.

Both men have been giving evidence at the new inquests into the disaster, held in Warrington.

Once officers realised fans were being injured they moved from "containment to rescue", Mr Ellis said.

Ninety-six Liverpool fans died after the terrace crush on 15 April 1989.

Mr Mills, who was 28 at the time, went to the match with his brother and a friend, Peter, who did not have a ticket.

Mr Mills said he and his brother became separated from Peter and went through a "chocker" tunnel that led them into pen four, on the Leppings Lane terraces.

He said: "As soon as we got in, I was facing the wrong way and I couldn't turn round.

"I knew straight away there was too many people in there.

'Couldn't move'

"You knew it was wrong because you were struggling to breathe, you couldn't move your arms," he said.

Mr Mills said he and his brother had hold of each other's arms so they wouldn't be separated.

He told the jury George said to him he "had to get out" before he climbed over other fans' heads to get to a gate that was open.

He said the officer, who was standing "right in front of the gate", pushed his brother's shoulders to try to get him back into the pen.

But he said his brother had "both his arms wrapped around the policeman's legs and he wouldn't let go".

Chloe Fairley, a barrister who represents the Police Federation, asked if the officer at the gate "eventually" started helping George.

Mr Mills replied: "He couldn't push him back because my brother wouldn't let go.

"Eventually, I think then he's seen something going on."

Mr Mills escaped through a hole in the fence ripped open by fans and police.

He said "maybe 50" officers who tried to help fans were "fantastic" but "a lot of policemen [were] just walking around the pitch doing absolutely nothing".


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Stephen Ellis told the jury he set up in front of the Leppings Lane terraces to take photographs of the match.

He said his attention was first drawn to the terraces around kick-off when he heard two girls, who were "packed right up against the fence", screaming.

He also noticed fans being stopped by police from escaping the pens.

He said: "They were trying to get over the top of the fence but the police officer, who was known as PC Illingworth, was trying to push them back or stop them from coming over the fencing."

Alison Monroe, a barrister representing the bereaved families, asked if he was "certain" fans were "being physically pushed back".

Mr Ellis replied: "Well, they were being stopped from coming over the fence, yes."

The court heard he first thought fans were invading the pitch and that he didn't realise how serious the issue was until the match was stopped.

Responding to the disaster, the police officers in front of the pens moved from "containment to rescue", he added.

He later saw PC Illingworth standing on a wall pulling fans over the top of the fence.

The jury also heard from Michael Bradley, a Liverpool fan who was at the match who gave first aid to five injured fans.

Mark George QC, who represents 22 families who lost loved ones, thanked Mr Bradley on behalf of the families.

The inquests continue.

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