Hillsborough police chief David Duckenfield to face hearing over retrial

David Conn
Photograph: Christopher Furlong/Getty

The former South Yorkshire police chief superintendent who was in command of the 1989 FA Cup semi-final at Hillsborough, where a crush killed 96 people, has faced a hearing on Monday to determine if he will be tried again on a charge of gross negligence manslaughter.

The jury that heard the prosecution of David Duckenfield at Preston crown court failed to reach a verdict in April on their eighth day of deliberations, following 10 weeks of evidence heard between 14 January and 25 March.

Duckenfield was charged with manslaughter in relation to 95 of the 96 people killed by the crush at the semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at Sheffield Wednesday’s stadium.

Richard Matthews QC, the lead barrister for the Crown Prosecution Service, told the judge, Sir Peter Openshaw, on the day the jury failed to reach its verdict that the CPS intended to seek a retrial of Duckenfield. Benjamin Myers QC, representing Duckenfield, told Openshaw he would be opposing the application.

The jury did return a 10-2 majority guilty verdict against the other defendant, Graham Mackrell, the Sheffield Wednesday secretary and safety officer for the Hillsborough ground at the time of the disaster, on a charge of breaching his legal duty to keep people safe at his place of work.

Mackrell negligently allocated too few turnstiles, only seven, for the 10,100 people with tickets to stand and support Liverpool on the Leppings Lane terrace, and only 23 turnstiles altogether for the 24,000 people with tickets allocated to Liverpool supporters.

The 96 victims, aged between 10 and 67, were killed by a lethal crush in the central “pens” 3 and 4 of the Leppings Lane terrace.

No charge was brought against Duckenfield in relation to the 96th person to die, Tony Bland, who was critically injured in the crush and was maintained on life support in hospital until 1993, when the support was lawfully withdrawn.

According to the law in 1989, a criminal charge relating to a death could not be brought if the victim died longer than a year and a day after the acts which allegedly caused it.

A decision is expected on Tuesday.