Hillsborough match commander 'wasn't experienced enough', court hears

David Duckenfield arriving at court Image copyright PA
Image caption Former match commander David Duckenfield denies gross negligence manslaughter

Hillsborough match commander David Duckenfield was not experienced enough "to deal with" the situation, a former police sergeant told his trial.

But William Crawford told Preston Crown Court he did not blame Mr Duckenfield, saying it was the fault of "the person who put him there".

Mr Crawford also said there was a "complete lack of manpower" on the day.

Former Ch Supt Mr Duckenfield, 74, of Ferndown, Dorset, denies the gross negligence manslaughter of 95 fans.

Mr Crawford, who was in charge of police officers at the Leppings Lane end in 1988 and 1989, said: "I think it was more organised in '88.

"The problem in '89 (was) I don't think the commander was experienced enough on that particular day to deal with that situation.

"But I will qualify that in I don't think it was his fault - I think it was the person who put him there in the first place."

Benjamin Myers QC, representing Mr Duckenfield, said he did not disagree there was "some reduction" in officers overall.

But he said the numbers of police on the Leppings Lane concourse and terraces were exactly the same when comparing the police operational orders for both years.

Mr Crawford replied: "On paper."

Earlier Kevin Godley, a police constable on duty at both matches, said "from what we were told in the run-up to the match there was less officers" than in previous years.

He said he queried why and was told it was because of the costs involved.

Image caption The 96 people who lost their lives in the Hillsborough disaster

Jurors have been told 96 fans were killed as a result of a crush in pens at the Leppings Lane end of the ground.

Of those, 94 died on the same day.

The youngest of the victims had been 10-year-old Jon-Paul Gilhooley.

Lee Nicol, 14, died two days later and Tony Bland, who suffered "terrible brain damage" was in a permanent vegetative state until his death in March 1993, jurors heard.

Under the law at the time, there can be no prosecution for the death of Mr Bland, as he died more than a year and a day after his injuries were caused.

Co-accused Graham Mackrell, 69, of Stocking Pelham, Herts, the then club secretary of match hosts Sheffield Wednesday FC, denies breaching a condition of the ground's safety certificate and a health and safety offence.

The trial continues.

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