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Hillsborough tragedy: Fans were unlawfully killed, says jury

Jurors conclude that police decisions led to 96 Liverpool fans being crushed to death during the ill-fated match in 1989

Warrington (UK): The 96 Liverpool fans who died in the Hillsborough football stadium disaster were unlawfully killed, a jury found yesterday, blaming police for the worst tragedy in the history of British sport.

Supporters are crushed against the barrier as disaster strikes before the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at the Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield on April 15, 1989. Ninety six Liverpool fans died in the incident. Pics/Getty Images
Supporters are crushed against the barrier as disaster strikes before the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at the Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield on April 15, 1989. Ninety six Liverpool fans died in the incident. Pics/Getty Images

Following the longest-running inquest in English legal history, jurors concluded that policing decisions at the ill-fated match in 1989 "caused or contributed" to the deaths, and amounted to "gross negligence".

Relatives of the victims have fought a 27-year campaign to get to the heart of what happened during the disaster, and were angry at an initial inquest ruling the deaths were accidental. They emerged from the courtroom hugging and in tears, holding pictures of their loved ones and a scarf reading "JUSTICE".

Tributes are placed at Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough Stadium yesterday after the verdict
Tributes are placed at Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough Stadium yesterday after the verdict

They linked hands above their heads and sang the Liverpool Football Club anthem "You'll Never Walk Alone" and chanted "Justice for the 96".

An emotional moment for the relatives of Hillsborough tragedy victims after the verdict
Mary Corrigan, mother of Keith McGrath, who was only 18 when he died in the Hillsborough disaster, gets emotional yesterday

The Crown Prosecution Servic (CPS), England's state prosecutors, said it would now consider whether to bring criminal charges.

An emotional moment for the relatives of Hillsborough tragedy victims after the verdictAn emotional moment for the relatives of Hillsborough tragedy victims after the verdict

'Gross negligence'
The mammoth inquest, which began in March 2014, took place in a purpose-built courtroom in Warrington, outside Liverpool.

Relatives of Hillsborough victims console each other as they leave Birchwood Park after the hearing
Relatives of Hillsborough victims console each other as they leave Birchwood Park after the hearing

Coroner John Goldring, who presided over the inquests, asked the nine-member jury to decide on 14 key points — with the issue of whether the victims were unlawfully killed the central question that caused them the most difficulty.

What happened at Hillsborough in 1989

The disaster occurred on April 15, 1989 during an FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at Sheffield Wednesday's Hillsborough stadium in northern England. Seeking to alleviate a crush that had developed outside the ground at the Leppings Lane End shortly before kick-off, David Duckenfield, the police match day commander, ordered the opening of an exit gate. It enabled 2,000 fans to pile into the already over-full terracing pens behind the goal at that end, causing a fatal crush. Penned in by the perimeter fencing, 94 men, women and children in pens three and four were horrifically crushed to death.

'Truth prevails and justice is served'

  Finally and way, way, way overdue, the truth prevails and justice is served. jft96. (Justice for the 96)
— Former Liverpool striker Michael Owen on Twitter


  After so many years, fighting for justice, I am really pleased to see the verdict today, which confirms what we have been saying for a long time. I am especially pleased for the families of the 96 who have sought justice for so long and with such dignity, as well as for the people of Liverpool and for football fans in general
— Former Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez

  Landmark day as the Hillsborough inquest provides long overdue justice for the 96 Liverpool fans who died in the tragic disaster. I would like to pay tribute to the extraordinary courage of Hillsborough campaigners in their long search for the truth
— British Prime Minister David Cameron

  Fantastic to see the reaction of the families outside the court! Very emotional as well. The truth is out AT LAST. Take note all the doubters!
— John Aldridge, a member of the Liverpool team that played in the ill-fated FA Cup semis at Hillsborough


Finally, thankfully, justice for the 96! Rest in peace
— Former England striker Gary Lineker

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