Today’s verdict in the Hillsborough Inquest represents a vindication for the families of the 96 people who were killed at the stadium or died of their injuries sustained as a result of the crush. It was held after the previous inquest was set aside, partially as a result of the findings of the Hillsborough Independent Panel and the emergence of evidence that contradicted the previous Coroner’s decision to not consider anything that happened after 3.15pm on the day of the disaster.
It is important to remember that an Inquest is different from a criminal court. It is not the job of the Coroner to find guilt or assign blame. Rather his role is to investigate violent, unnatural or suspicious deaths or deaths in the custody of the state.
The Jury in this Inquest (who have sat on the case for over two years) have found that the deceased were unlawfully killed. This means that they considered that a person (in this case Police officers) owed a duty of care to the deceased, that he breached that duty of care, that such a breach caused the deceased’s death and that the breach could be characterised as Gross Negligence.
The finding that those who died were unlawfully killed is likely to lead to consideration whether it is appropriate to bring criminal proceedings against some of those police officers who were involved in the case. Unfortunately for the families of the victim this process is still likely to take some time.
Blog by Gerry Scott, Criminal Solicitor