South East Wales

Football flare death lessons 'not learnt,' says victim's son

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Media captionJohn Hill was standing next to his father when the flare was fired

A man whose father was killed by a flare at an international football match 20 years ago says "nothing has been learnt" from the tragedy.

John Hill was standing next to his father, also John, 67, when he was hit at the end of the Wales-Romania game in Cardiff in November 1993.

Two Wrexham men were later jailed but smoke canisters are still let off at games, most recently last month.

Mr Hill, from Merthyr Tydfil, said: "It was saddening and deeply distressing."

Image caption Two brothers were jailed for manslaughter after letting off the flare that killed grandfather John Hill

Speaking publicly for the first time about the incident, Mr Hill told BBC Wales how he had desperately tried to save his father's life.

The father and son had travelled to the old National Stadium in Cardiff to watch Wales' World Cup qualifier against Romania.

At the final whistle, two men on the opposite side of the stadium let off a marine distress flare that travelled over the pitch and struck his father.

"I can only describe what I thought was an aeroplane about to hit the stadium," Mr Hill said.

"I could hear this huge rushing noise and I remember looking round and I couldn't see anything - and the next thing I was aware of, my dad fell forwards.

"I didn't put the two events together - the noise and my dad falling forwards. I thought my dad had simply had a heart attack or had fallen.

"So I leaned forward to try and pick my dad up and when I stepped back, I realised I couldn't lift him on my own. I looked, and both my hands were covered in blood.

Image caption John Hill said his mother never recovered from the violent death of his father

"And my jeans, I can remember, and my shoes, were covered in blood.

"That just stopped me for a moment. And then I remember shouting, 'Can somebody help me please? Something's happened to my dad!' "

Two brothers later admitted the manslaughter of grandfather John Hill and were jailed at Cardiff Crown Court for three years.

Mr Hill said he chose not to hold "angry feelings" against the pair.

"I didn't see that that would help me - it wouldn't help my family and it would be a negative energy."

But Mr Hill said his mother, who died in 2005, never recovered from losing her husband.

He recalled how he had gone to her home with two policemen to tell her about what had happened.

"I remember knocking on the door and my mum opened the door and saw the two policemen," he said.

Image caption Mr Hill said it was "deeply distressing" to see a flare once again causing injury at a football game

"She had obviously heard that someone had been killed in the stadium and she just pointed her finger and said, 'That man who was killed was your father'.

"She just collapsed. We had a doctor waiting because my mum wasn't a well lady at the time and there were concerns whether she would be able to sustain the shock."

Last month, a smoke canister was thrown at the Aston Villa-Tottenham Hotspur Premier League match, hitting and injuring a linesman.

Mr Hill said lessons have not been learnt from his family's tragedy.

He said: "OK, this was a canister, a smoke bomb, which perhaps wouldn't have the potential of the weapon that was used on my dad, but nevertheless it caused injury, and I thought nothing's been learnt.

"We're 20 years on. There's not a single lesson that's been learnt here."

Hear the full interview on the Jason Mohammad Show on BBC Radio Wales from 10:00 GMT on Thursday, 14 November.

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