Liverpool

Hillsborough: Officer describes 'hell' on terrace

Jon-Paul Gilhooley Image copyright Hillsborough Inquests
Image caption Jon-Paul Gilhooley, 10, travelled to the FA Cup tie between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest in Sheffield with his uncles

A former police officer who saw the body of the Hillsborough disaster's youngest victim has described the scene as "like walking into hell".

Ex-inspector Philip Woodward was giving evidence about 10-year-old Jon-Paul Gilhooley's death at the new inquests.

The jury heard how Jon-Paul, a cousin of Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard, went to the 1989 match with his uncles.

Two men with him in the crush described how they "screamed" and "shouted" that they had a child with them.

Ninety-six fans died after crushing on the Leppings Lane terraces at the stadium in Sheffield on 15 April, 1989.

Mr Woodward, who went into pen three at around 15:15, told the court: "When I did manage to get in there, with the number of bodies that were on the ground, it was very difficult to work in that environment.

"As I say, it was quite horrific and it was just like walking into hell."

He added: "There were bodies on the ground. I saw a young boy, probably aged around 10 - a similar age to my own son - amongst a pile of bodies in what I would call the well area just between the fencing, the gate and where the steps led up to the terracing."

'Tighter and tighter'

Mr Woodward said he believed Jon-Paul was dead when he saw him.

The jury heard Jon-Paul was 4ft 9in (148cm) tall, weighed 5st 9lb (36kg) and was wearing a red and blue jacket top, blue denim shirt and blue jeans.

His uncle Brian was offered a spare ticket on the morning of the match and decided to take Jon-Paul.

The boy went into the pen on Leppings Lane with Rodney Jolly, a friend of the family.

Mr Jolly, who grew up with Jon-Paul's uncles, said a large surge pushed them towards the perimeter fence at the front of the pen.

"It was comfortable first off, you know, and then it started getting quite uncomfortable and tighter.

"It started getting more uncomfortable and tighter and tighter and then you couldn't breathe. It was terrible."

He added: "I think he was in front of me and I remember I was shouting out to try and get someone's attention that I had a child in my care."

Image copyright Hillsborough Inquests
Image caption Ninety-six fans died as a result of the 1989 disaster at Hillsborough stadium

Mr Jolly said he passed out and woke up on the pitch.

"I remember I was alive because I could smell the grass and I could see the blue sky," he said.

'Cold to the touch'

Glen Flatley, who was with Mr Jolly and Jon-Paul, said: "Rod was just to me left, Jon-Paul was somewhere in front, but I couldn't see him because he was obviously much smaller and we were so packed in together at this time that it was impossible for me to even look down and see where he was."

Former police constable Graham Butler, who was on duty at the match, also gave evidence.

He was at the back of the Leppings Lane terraces and described how Jon-Paul was thrust into his arms as he walked towards the tunnel leading into the central pens.

Mr Butler said: "I won't say he was thrown at me, but he was given to given to me with 'have him, help him'.

"I turned back and ran out of the tunnel because I had seen the ambulance."

The jury saw CCTV footage of Mr Butler carrying Jon-Paul to an ambulance at 15:21. Mr Butler said the boy's body was "limp" and "cold to the touch".

Ambulance officer Harold Wadsworth said Jon-Paul's eyes were "glazed".

He told the jury he did not check for a pulse before starting resuscitation.

The ambulance, carrying Jon-Paul and another patient, left the ground at about 15:27.

The inquests, held in Warrington, Cheshire, are due to resume on Thursday.


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