Hillsborough trial: Liverpool fan 'feels guilt over inability to help victim'

Hillsborough Image copyright Getty Images

A Liverpool fan has told a court of his feelings of guilt over being unable to help a fellow supporter in distress during the Hillsborough tragedy.

Christopher Parsonage "screamed out for my mum" believing he was going to die, the Preston Crown Court jury heard.

Mr Parsonage told the trial of match commander David Duckenfield he was "carried down by the crowd" and "rammed" against a crash barrier.

Ex-Ch Supt Duckenfield denies the gross negligence manslaughter of 95 fans.

Mr Parsonage, a teacher at the time, said it was an "absolute scrum" outside the turnstiles before kick-off in the 1989 FA Cup semi final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.

He recalled as he passed through the main tunnel leading to the central pens on the Leppings Lane terrace that somebody behind him said a gate had been opened.

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

He said there was "immediately" a "huge press of people". He was "carried down by the crowd" with his feet off the floor and hit a crash barrier.

He said: "I couldn't do anything about it, it was incredible agony, I couldn't move. My leg was absolutely trapped, I couldn't twist my foot, I was being rammed against that barrier.

"I thought my leg was going to break and I was going to die. I screamed out for my mum. I was 29."


Asked by prosecutor Richard Matthews QC what his breathing was like at the time, Mr Parsonage replied: "I was consciously deciding to control my breathing and use my diaphragm.

"I knew I had to because I saw this guy to the side of me with a blue face. I have had to deal with my own personal guilt of not being able to hold him up.

Asked if he was "desperate" to help, Mr Parsonage replied "desperation is too slight a word really". He then described the man falling down into the crush.

Earlier, retired Court of Appeal judge Sir Maurice Kay told the court it was "bedlam" in central pen 4 when he arrived shortly after kick-off.

The then senior barrister and Liverpool season ticket-holder said he found himself close to a barrier and the crowd had moved "down to the front as a result of the pressure."

"After the players had gone off, when it was still bedlam, I can remember police officers on the pitch calling to the crowd to move backwards and people shouting back 'We can't, we can't'."

'Police were adamant'

Former Liverpool FC chief executive Peter Robinson told the jury the club felt "very strongly" that Hillsborough should not be the venue for the 1989 semi-final unless the ticket allocation was different to the previous year.

He said: "There had been a lot of comments that Nottingham Forest had been given a larger allocation of tickets than Liverpool, although Liverpool had a higher average gate (figure)."

Mr Robinson said Manchester United had told him their Old Trafford ground was available but the FA competitions secretary informed him Hillsborough would be the venue and the teams would have the same ends of the ground as 1988.

Ben Myers QC, defending 74-year-old Mr Duckenfield, of Ferndown, Dorset, asked Mr Robinson if he was told the police had played a part in that decision.

Mr Robinson replied: "They came back to me and said that the police were adamant it had to be the same way."

He agreed with Mr Myers that whoever was in charge of the police on 20 March, 1989 - the day, in a live TV draw, Hillsborough was declared the venue to host the match - had made that decision.

Former Sheffield Wednesday club secretary Graham Mackrell, 69, of Stocking Pelham, Hertfordshire, who is on trial alongside Mr Duckenfield, denies safety breaches relating to the crush at the stadium on 15 April 1989.

The trial continues.

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