'Scene of horror' - Hillsborough trial told of crowd crush
The jury in the trial of Hillsborough match commander David Duckenfield has heard of the "scene of horror" in the pens where the fatal crush happened.
Richard Matthews QC, prosecuting, said calculations showed the density at the front of pen three of the Leppings Lane end at 3.03pm - three minutes after the 1989 FA Cup semi-final kicked off - was as high as 10 people per square metre.
Mr Duckenfield (74) who denies the gross negligence manslaughter of 95 Liverpool fans, and former Sheffield Wednesday club secretary Graham Mackrell (69), who denies breaching a condition of the safety certificate and a health and safety offence, sat with their legal teams in the well of Preston Crown Court for the third day of the trial.
Mr Matthews said the court would hear from Liverpool fans who were on the terrace on April 15, 1989, including off-duty police officer Stephen Allen. He said: "We will hear from him what, in short, I can describe now as the remarkable help he gave and the scene of horror around him."
Mr Matthews said they would also hear evidence from fan Colin Moneypenny about the experience in the pens.
"He described that he was just shouting and screaming and trying to get people to help with no effect for the whole of the period," Mr Matthews said.
"He could see police officers on the other side of the perimeter fence and it appeared they were doing absolutely nothing."
The court was shown video of the crowd building up outside the turnstiles in Leppings Lane before kick-off, before an exit gate was opened to allow them into the ground.
Mr Matthews said Mr Duckenfield failed to get any assessment of the "desperate situation" and to deal with the ever-growing crowd.
He said: "Mr Duckenfield's role was to use the resources he had at his disposal to get a proper assessment of what was going on - he did not have the burden of personally coping with an encompassing crowd but instead the responsibility of command from a bird's eye view and a host of cameras and screens to assist him."
The jury was told three requests were made by Superintendent Roger Marshall for exit gates to be opened to relieve the crush outside the turnstiles and on the third occasion he said people would be killed if the gates were not opened.
Mr Matthews said a witness described Mr Duckenfield responding: "If people are going to get killed, open the gates."
The court was shown CCTV footage of exit gate C being opened at 2.48pm and 2.52pm on the day, allowing more than 2,500 fans to enter the stadium and make their way down the tunnel to the central pens of the Leppings Lane terrace.
Mr Matthews said: "It is the prosecution case that it was David Duckenfield, the match commander, his duty to consider the consequences of opening the gates; that there was time to have done so even between the first and third request to open the gates; also, that there was sufficient time to make contingency plans for the inner concourse.
"It is also the prosecution case that it was obvious to anyone ordering, permitting or even observing on the cameras in the police control box, by opening gate C there would be no room going down the tunnel into the pens and there was going to be a serious problem in the central pens three and four."
Ninety-six men, women and children died in the crush at the match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.
Under the law at the time, there can be no prosecution for the 96th victim, Tony Bland, as he died more than a year and a day after the disaster.