Hills­bor­ough match chief faces man­slaugh­ter trial

Western Mail - - UK&WORLD NEWS - ELEANOR BAR­LOW news­desk@waleson­line.co.uk

HILLS­BOR­OUGH match com­man­der David Duck­en­field is to face trial for the man­slaugh­ter by gross neg­li­gence of 95 Liver­pool sup­port­ers af­ter a judge lifted a stay on his pros­e­cu­tion.

Four other de­fen­dants charged with mat­ters re­lated to the dis­as­ter and its af­ter­math will also face trial fol­low­ing abuse of process ar­gu­ments, which were heard at Pre­ston Crown Court ear­lier this month.

An­nounc­ing his de­ci­sion yes­ter­day, judge Sir Peter Open­shaw said: “In re­spect of the de­fen­dant, David Duck­en­field, I lift the stay.”

About 10 rel­a­tives of the 96 Liver­pool fans who died at the FA Cup semi-fi­nal in 1989 were at Pre­ston Crown Court to hear the rul­ing, while oth­ers watched pro­ceed­ings on a video link in Liver­pool.

Sir Peter said: “I con­firm that I grant the vol­un­tary bill of in­dict­ment to al­low pros­e­cu­tion against him for man­slaugh­ter to pro­ceed. I de­cline to or­der a stay on that charge.”

Duck­en­field, 73, faces 95 charges of gross neg­li­gence man­slaugh­ter fol­low­ing the crush in the ter­race pens at the Lep­pings Lane end of Sh­effield Wed­nes­day’s sta­dium at the 1989 FA Cup semi-fi­nal be­tween Liver­pool and Not­ting­ham For­est on April 15.

Un­der the law at the time, there can be no pros­e­cu­tion for the death of the 96th vic­tim, Tony Bland, as he died more than a year and a day af­ter his in­juries were caused.

The Crown Pros­e­cu­tion Ser­vice ap­plied to lift a his­tor­i­cal stay – halt­ing fur­ther le­gal pro­ceed­ings – on Mr Duck­en­field put in place in 2000.

Duck­en­field is set to go on trial in Septem­ber at Pre­ston Crown Court along­side former Sh­effield Wed­nes­day club sec­re­tary Gra­ham Mack­rell, 68, who is charged with an of­fence in­volv­ing the sta­dium safety cer­tifi­cate and a health and safety of­fence.

The pros­e­cu­tion de­cided not to pro­ceed with a sec­ond charge of breach­ing the sta­dium safety cer­tifi­cate against Mack­rell.

Three other de­fen­dants – re­tired po­lice of­fi­cers Don­ald Den­ton, 80, and Alan Foster, 71, and re­tired solic­i­tor Peter Met­calf, 68, who acted for South York­shire Po­lice fol­low­ing the 1989 dis­as­ter – are sched­uled to go on trial in Jan­uary 2019 charged with do­ing acts in­tended to per­vert the course of jus­tice.

The judge said: “I de­cline to stay that pros­e­cu­tion; those charges must also, there­fore, pro­ceed to trial, presently sched­uled for Jan­uary next year.”

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