Liverpool

Hillsborough inquests: Temporary mortuary 'disgraceful'

Ian Glover Image copyright Hillsborough Inquests
Image caption Ian Glover was one of 96 people fatally injured in the 1989 Hillsborough disaster

A temporary mortuary set up in a gym during the Hillsborough disaster was "disgraceful" and "atrocious", victims' families have told the inquests.

There was "no dignity" for those who died, said John McCarthy, whose 20-year-old brother Ian Glover died.

Mr McCarthy told the hearing he had seen video footage showing his dead brother with a bin liner over his face.

Ninety-six Liverpool fans died as a result of a crush at the 1989 FA Cup semi-final.

Families also complained about how the police had asked them how much alcohol they and their loved ones had drunk before the match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest on 15 April that year.

South Yorkshire Police had set up the mortuary in the Sheffield stadium's gym as the disaster unfolded.

'Verge of collapsing'

Mr McCarthy described seeing a "pile" of bodies inside the building.

He said that while they were watching a video, recently put together by investigators, his sister noticed something on their brother's face.

"When the camera zoomed in it was actually a bin bag, a bin liner on his face," he said. "No dignity at all, even when he was dead - a bin bag on his face."

When the body was brought out, he said his father John had to be held up "because he was on the verge of collapsing".

Mr McCarthy also told the jury he, his brother Joe and his father were all asked if they had gone into any pubs on their way to Sheffield and how much they had had to drink.

Image copyright Hillsborough inquests
Image caption Richard Jones was at the match with his partner Tracey Cox

Leslie Jones gave evidence about identifying the bodies of his 25-year-old son Richard and his partner Tracey Cox, 23, inside the gym.

His daughter Stephanie had also been at the match.

Mr Jones and his wife travelled to Sheffield after hearing about what had happened.

He said: "Doreen was behind me while I was identifying the body and I stood aside for her to look and she started to go down on her knee.

"Doreen tried to get down to give him a cuddle, but the police officer pulled her up roughly and said 'Sorry, he is now the property of the coroner, you can't touch him'.

"She was distraught by that... she said to me later that she was there when he was brought into the world and she wanted to be there when he was going out of the world."

'People punching walls'

The court heard the couple went to Sheffield's Medico Legal centre three days later to try to see their son's body. Again, they were told they could not touch him but were allowed to view his body through a glass window.

Mr Jones complained to the then coroner Dr Stefan Popper, the jury heard.

"I wrote a letter about the disgraceful state of the gym that was used for the bodies. I thought it was an atrocious situation," he said.

"The noise in there was atrocious. There were people punching walls and crying and sobbing all around you. It was a terrible place to be in."

Image copyright Hillsborough inquests
Image caption Kevin Traynor (left) and Christopher Traynor were both season ticket holders at Anfield

Theresa Arrowsmith, whose brothers Christopher Traynor, 26, and Kevin Traynor, 16, both died, described how police initially brought out a wrong body for her to identify.

She had already seen Christopher's and was expecting to see Kevin's.

"At that moment, I thought Kevin would still be alive," Mrs Arrowsmith said.

She added the police officer told her "Oh, I'm sorry, we've made a mistake" before he "whisked the body back and then brought the correct body out".

An officer then interviewed her and asked how much her brothers would have had to drink. She said Christopher might have had "two and a half pints".

'No privacy'

But she recalled the officer said: "Oh, come on love, they must have had more than that?"

The officer also asked if the brothers had bought their match tickets on the black market. Mrs Arrowsmith said they were both season ticket holders at Anfield.

The officer was said to have remarked: "Oh, come on, don't put that past me."

Mrs Arrowsmith continued: "He just kept going on and on and on and I got so upset in the end I just broke down."

She said she could hear people "shouting, screaming, crying, sobbing".

She added: "There was no privacy at all. The policeman that interviewed me was getting quite agitated and I felt quite angry with me and was shouting.

"I just felt like everybody could hear. Everybody could hear everybody and it was horrible."

Image copyright Hillsborough inquests
Image caption Stuart Thompson was identified by his brother Martin

Martin Thompson, then 19, recalled going to identify the body of his brother Stuart, who was 17.

After finding a picture of him amongst photographs taken of the victims, he said he asked police if he could make a phone call.

He said: "I wanted to ring my mother [but was told] 'No, there's other things to do first - you've got to identify the body'."

Mr Thompson said he recognised his brother's body after seeing one of his shoes.

"I knew he was very proud of the trainers he had bought the week before," he said. "So I knew without seeing his face."

He asked again if he could call his mother but was told there were "some questions to be asked first".

He continued: "The first question asked was, what had I had to drink today? Then I was asked what Stuart had been drinking and then what time we got to the ground, did we have tickets, what time did we get in?

"I didn't think it was appropriate to ask about alcohol. I was shaking, I was anxious, I was crying.

"I'm not proud, but I did swear at the police."

Image copyright Hillsborough inquests
Image caption Andrew Brookes' sister said she was 'very angry' with the way their father had to identify his body

Louise Brookes' brother Andrew, 26, also died in the disaster.

She described how her father was asked to look through photographs of the deceased.

She said she was "very, very angry and very, very bitter" about how he was treated.

He looked at the pictures pinned to a board but could not find Andrew.

Ms Brookes said her father George "went 'Great, he's alive'."

'So bitter'

But, as he walked away, a police officer said: "I suggest you go and have another look because your son probably will not look like he was the last time you saw him."

She said her dad went over to a desk, which apparently had a list with Andrew's name on it.

Ms Brookes, who was 17 at the time, said: "What I'm so angry about was the fact that my brother was identified at 10:55pm. They had got Andrew's name, they had got the details and they made my father go and view those photos.

"My dad went to his grave with that memory of his son in that body bag and I'm so angry and so bitter because it's unforgivable.

"There was no organisation that night at all."

Image copyright Hillsborough inquests
Image caption Kevin Tyrrell had gone to the match with two friends

On Tuesday, Francis Tyrrell said police officers treated him and his family "like muck".

He identified the body of his son, Kevin, who was 15 and had gone to the match with two friends.

Mr Tyrrell said: "We had come to identify someone. It was like we were criminals, the way they were talking to us."

The inquests, being held in Warrington, Cheshire are now on a break for Easter - which will include the 26th anniversary of the disaster - before resuming on 20 April.


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