CPS to seek David Duckenfield Hillsborough retrial after no verdict

By Faye Wasilowski. 

The Crown Prosecution Service  is to seek a retrial for David Duckenfield into his role in the Hillsborough tragedy.

Mr Duckenfield faced a charge of gross negligence manslaughter, but after a 10-week trial a jury failed to reach a decision.

Lawyers for the former Chief Superintendent, who had denied the charge, said they would apply for a “stay of proceedings” to prevent another trial going ahead.

During the same 10-week trial, ex-Sheffield Wednesday club secretary Graham Mackrell was found guilty of breaching health and safety regulations.

A majority of 10 to 2 convicted Mr Mackrell, 69, of failing to discharge his duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act. He is to be sentenced on May 13.

He was accused of failing to take reasonable care to ensure that there were enough turnstiles to prevent the build-up of large crowds.

The court heard there were only seven turnstiles for the 10,100 Liverpool fans who had standing tickets for the match against Nottingham Forest.

After 29 hours of deliberations, the jury failed to reach a verdict on whether Mr Duckenfield was guilty or not guilty of gross negligence manslaughter of 95 people.

Due to the year and one-day rule, a common law legislation which was in effect at the time of the disaster, the 96th death of Tony Bland, can not be considered for prosecution. He died from the injuries he obtained more than a year and a day after the fatal incident.

The prosecution alleged Mr Duckenfield had “ultimate responsibility” at the ground and should have made “key lifesaving decisions” on the day.

But the former police officer’s defence team said the case against Mr Duckenfield was “breathtakingly unfair” and said he had tried to do the “right thing”.

CPS legal director, Sue Hemming, said the trial has been “incredibly complex” and she recognised “that these developments will be difficult for the families affected by the Hillsborough disaster.”

Chairwoman of the Hillsborough Family Support Group, thanked the jury for the “weeks they’ve taken for their deliberations.”

Liverpool Football Club have also made a statement on their website.

They said: “Our thoughts are with all those who continue to be affected by the Hillborough tragedy and the 96 Liverpool supporters who went to watch their team and never came home.”

In a statement, Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said: “Having already sat through the longest inquest in British legal history, for the families – and the survivors – the prospect of another trial to wait for and endure, will no doubt prove a huge strain.

“The campaign to secure justice for the 96 fans who died, and those who escaped with their lives, having simply gone to watch a  football game, continues.

“I would therefore ask everyone committed to obtaining justice for those who lost their lives to be conscious of the need to not to do or say anything which might undermine that, no matter how confused and upset they might understandably be feeling at the moment.”

(Photo credit: Dave Pickersgill.)

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