No verdict on commander in 1989 Hillsborough soccer tragedy
PRESTON, England (AP) — A British jury failed to reach a decision Wednesday on whether the man in control of police operations at the 1989 Hillsborough Stadium tragedy that left 96 people dead is guilty of gross negligence manslaughter.
Jurors at Preston Crown Court in northern England deliberated for eight days in the case of David Duckenfield, 74, who has denied 95 counts. The victims, all Liverpool fans, died in a crush in the stadium during a soccer match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.
There can be no prosecution for the death of the 96th victim, Tony Bland, because he died more than a year and a day after his injuries.
A former official of Sheffield Wednesday soccer club, Graham Mackrell, 69, was found guilty of failing to discharge his duties under the Health and Safety at Work Act. The club’s home ground was Hillsborough.
Mackrell is to be sentenced on May 13. He faces a maximum sentence of an unlimited fine.
Prosecutors said they will seek a retrial for Duckenfield.
“I recognize that these developments will be difficult for the families affected by the Hillsborough disaster,” said Sue Hemming, director of legal services for the Crown Prosecution Service.
The original verdicts of accidental death for the victims were overturned in 2012 after documents uncovered mistakes by authorities and a cover-up by police, following a long campaign by families of the victims of Britain’s worst sports disaster.
Liverpool reacted to the decision reached by the jurors by saying the soccer club “can empathize with the frustration shared by everyone affected by the Hillsborough tragedy that the outcome was not definitive.”