Hillsborough disaster jury nearing full verdict

2 min

London (AFP)

Jurors at the inquests into the deaths of 96 Liverpool fans at the 1989 Hillsborough disaster have reached conclusions on all but one issue, coroner John Goldring said Wednesday.

The jury, which has been sitting since March 2014 at a purpose-built courtroom in Warrington, northwest England, retired on April 6 to consider 14 key questions set out by Goldring, after hearing more than two years of evidence.

Goldring confirmed with the jury forewoman on Wednesday that the panel has reached decisions on all the issues except for the single remaining topic.

The coroner told them he would give them further guidance and direction in due course.

The jurors will continue their deliberations on Monday.

The tragedy 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 grounds at the Leppings Lane End shortly before kick-off, the match commander opened an exit gate.

It enabled 2,000 fans to stream into the ground and they piled into the already over-full pens behind the goal at that end of the ground, causing a fatal crush.

The original coroner's verdicts of accidental death were quashed in 2012 after a campaign by victims' families led to the publication of a new report into the disaster.

The jurors heard evidence from more than 800 witnesses on subjects including stadium safety, match planning, the events of the day, the emergency response and evidence gathering by police after the disaster.

Under English law, an inquest exists solely to determine how the deceased came by their death. It cannot impose criminal sentences.

The final memorial at Liverpool's Anfield stadium for the 96 victims was held last Friday, 27 years to the day since Britain's worst sporting disaster.

Families of the deceased unanimously agreed this year's service would be the last public event at Anfield in memory of the supporters who died.