14 key questions for two-year jury

A jury has retired to consider 14 questions in the Hillsborough inquest where 96 fans died at a match in 1989. Picture: David Cannon/Allsport

SEVEN women and three men have retired to consider 14 critical questions in a two-year inquest that is the longest-running in British history.

The Hillsborough inquests cover the death of 96 football fans in a stadium in Sheffield after a crush in the terraces at the match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest in April 1989.

In an attempt to alleviate crowding in the stands shortly before kick-off, match commander David Duckenfield opened a gate that led another 2000 fans to stream into the ground turning it into what is known as the worst stadium disaster in UK history.

Seven hundred people were injured in the chaos as those outside pressed to get in fearing they would miss the start of the match. Some victims were crushed while standing on their feet while spectators in other parts of the ground watched on unawares.

In the aftermath, reports of a cover up surfaced with police accusing fnas of being unruly, A 2012 report found South Yorkshire police made “strenuous attempts” to place blame on victims.

The jury’s decision comes after a lengthy hearing that began in March 2014 after an original inquest was quashed by the High Court because it did not consider the response of emergency services.

After 279 days of sitting, coroner Sir John Goldring began his summing up on 25 January this year in an emotional and at times, gruesome, case that contained evidence of how individual people died.

It also included tributes from families of the victims who ranged from 10 years old to 67, with 38 of the victims aged 19 and under.

“We are conscious that you have devoted a very large part of your lives to these inquests,” Sir John said on Wednesday.

“It is of the highest importance that all of you work together in the interests of justice. It requires you to be able to discuss the evidence together in a civilised manner. It requires you to make your decisions together.”

Emergency services respond to those at the scene.

Emergency services respond to those at the scene.Source:Supplied

Some families of victims believe there was a high level cover up events.

Some families of victims believe there was a high level cover up events.Source:Supplied

The jury will have to answer 14 critical questions covering the basic facts of the case, whether police planning had omissions and if supporters made the situation worse.

Stadium design and managers, as well as the conduct of Sheffield football club will also be under scrutiny, along with the emergency response from South Yorkshire police and ambulance services.

Under English law the inquest verdicts cannot impose criminal sentences but are used only to determine the cause of death.

Sir John said jurors would have to decide whether police decided to collectively present a “false narrative” of the events of the day — something strongly denied by senior officers involved.

“Put emotion to one side. Do not making critical findings unless the facts justify them. On the other hand, do not shrink from making such findings if they do,” he said.

“When you are assessing and judging the conduct of people at the time of the disaster, or in years previously, you should apply the standards of the time, not the standards of today.”

There is no time limit on the jury’s deliberations.

Fans try to pull others to safety in the crush.

Fans try to pull others to safety in the crush.Source:Supplied

Former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard’s ten-year-old cousin died in the disaster.

Former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard’s ten-year-old cousin died in the disaster.Source:Supplied

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