Thursday 29 September 2016

Hillsborough jury can return majority decision on whether fans unlawfully killed

Kim Pilling

Published 25/04/2016 | 11:57

Balloons make the number '96' during a memorial service at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on April 15, 2016, on the 27th anniversary of the Hillsborough Disaster.
96 Liverpool supporters died at the 1989 FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at the Hillsborough football ground in Sheffield, northern England. 2016 will be the final year a memorial service is held at Anfield. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL ELLISPAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images
Balloons make the number '96' during a memorial service at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on April 15, 2016, on the 27th anniversary of the Hillsborough Disaster. 96 Liverpool supporters died at the 1989 FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at the Hillsborough football ground in Sheffield, northern England. 2016 will be the final year a memorial service is held at Anfield. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL ELLISPAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images

The jury in the Hillsborough inquests has been told it can return a majority decision on whether the 96 victims were unlawfully killed.

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Coroner Sir John Goldring explained to the jury of six women and three men that he could accept a decision of 7-2 or 8-1 on the question if they could not all agree.

The jury forewoman has previously indicated to the court in Warrington that unanimous decisions had already been made on every other question they were posed.

The jury has been told to answer a general questionnaire of 14 questions as well as record the time and cause of death for each of the Liverpool fans who died in the disaster on April 15, 1989.

These include questions about the police planning before the game, stadium safety, events on the day, the emergency services response to the disaster and a question about whether the fans were unlawfully killed.

Question six asks: "Are you satisfied, so that you are sure, that those who died in the disaster were unlawfully killed?"

The hearings have been ongoing for more than two years, with the jury having heard months of evidence from more than 800 witnesses.

Before they were sent out on April 6 to start their deliberations, jurors were told they could only answer 'yes' to Question 6 if they were sure that match commander Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield owed a duty of care to those who died in the disaster, and that he was in breach of that duty of care.

Thirdly, they would need to be satisfied that his breach of duty caused the deaths and, fourthly, that it amounted to "gross negligence".

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