Liverpool

Hillsborough inquests: Jury given unlawful killing majority direction

crush in stand
Image caption The inquests into the deaths of 96 fans have been the longest in UK legal history

Jurors have been told they can return a majority decision on whether the 96 victims of the Hillsborough disaster were unlawfully killed.

The jury of six women and three men have been deliberating since 6 April after hearing evidence for two years.

They must agree with a majority of seven whether supporters were unlawfully killed in 1989 as part of a 14-section questionnaire.

The jury has reached unanimous conclusions for 13 of the questions.

Image caption The match at Sheffield Wednesday's ground was called off at 15:06 on 15 April 1989

The coroner Sir John Goldring said he would accept a majority decision at the hearing in Warrington, Cheshire.

Question six asks whether the 96 were unlawfully killed.

To answer yes to that question, jurors must be "sure" that Ch Supt David Duckenfield, who was in overall command of the police operation, was "responsible for the manslaughter by gross negligence" of those who died.

When jurors reach their decision, it is understood the court will adjourn until the following day when the conclusions will be delivered.

Ninety-six fans died as a result of a crush on the terraces occupied by Liverpool supporters attending the FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest on 15 April 1989.


Four steps to unlawful killing conclusion

The coroner has laid out four steps jurors must consider when answering question six. Only if they are sure of each, can they conclude the 96 were unlawfully killed. They are:

  • Firstly, that Ch Supt David Duckenfield owed a duty of care to the 96 who died
  • Secondly, that he was in breach of that duty of care
  • Thirdly, that the breach of Mr Duckenfield's duty of care caused the deaths
  • Finally, the jury must be sure the breach which caused the deaths amounted to "gross negligence"

For the final point to be proved, the jury has to be sure the match commander's breach in his duty of care was so bad it amounted to a criminal act or omission.

Also that a "reasonably competent and careful" match commander in his position would have foreseen a "serious and obvious risk of death" to the supporters.


Jurors have made their decision about whether fans' behaviour added to a dangerous situation outside the stadium in Sheffield.

They have also made conclusions about whether police "errors or omissions" caused or contributed to the dangerous situation at the match and the crush on the terraces.

Based on the evidence, the jury has also decided if police and ambulance service responses to the crushing "contributed to the loss of lives".

Sir John began his summing up on 25 January and spoke to the jury for 26 days in total.

The hearings are the longest running inquests in British legal history.


Who were the 96 victims?

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Read profiles of all those who died in the disaster


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