Hillsborough trial: Jury unable to reach verdict on David Duckenfield, Graham Mackrell guilty

Clubs, English FA Cup, Liverpool, Story
The Hillsborough tragedy in 1989 cost 96 Liverpool fans their lives.

A jury in the trial of former Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield, the match commander at the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, has failed to reach a verdict on a charge of gross negligence manslaughter against him.

After a 10-week trial at Preston Crown Court, the jury of six men and six women were told by Judge Sir Peter Openshaw they could return a majority verdict of at least 10-2, after they were unable to return a unanimous decision. But they were discharged on Wednesday and a decision regarding a retrial has yet to be made. 

Ex-Sheffield Wednesday club secretary Graham Mackrell, who denied a charge under the Health and Safety at Work Act, was found guilty of the charge of breaching his safety duty regarding the allocation of seven turnstiles used by Liverpool fans.

Duckenfield, 74, had denied the gross negligence manslaughter of 95 Liverpool fans at the FA Cup semifinal against Nottingham Forest at Hillsborough on April 15, 1989. A 96th victim, Tony Bland, died more than a year after the disaster and under the law at the time, no prosecution can be brought.

The court had heard that Duckenfield, then with South Yorkshire Police, ordered the opening of the exit gates to the ground after crowds had built outside. A fatal crush then occurred after more than 2,000 supporters entered Hillsborough. Many supporters tried to make their way to a central pen at the ground via a tunnel.

The jury retired to consider its decision on Monday, March 26 after Judge Mr. Openshaw had told them to be “dispassionate” in their bid to reach a verdict.

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