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Jury fails to reach verdict in trial for Hillsborough match commander

The trial of David Duckenfield, South Yorkshire Police’s match commander on the day of the Hillsborough disaster, and Graham Mackrell, former Sheffield Wednesday club secretary and safety officer, concluded on Wednesday.

The jury made up of six men and six women was unable to reach a verdict on Duckenfield on the charge of manslaughter by gross negligence of 95 men, women and children on April 15, 1989.

Duckenfield, 69, could not be charged for the death of one man, Tony Bland, because he died more than one year and one day after the disaster occurred. Prosecutors will seek a retrial.

Mackrell was found guilty of breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 for failing to have sufficient turnstiles available for the match, which resulted in dangerous overcrowding in the Leppings Lane stand.

From Sky Sports:

Sue Hemming, director of legal services for the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “This trial, which relates to events from almost 30 years ago, has been incredibly complex and, after lengthy deliberations, the jury has found Graham Mackrell guilty but has been unable to reach a verdict in respect of David Duckenfield.

“We have discussed the matter carefully with counsel and I can confirm the CPS will seek a retrial against Mr Duckenfield for manslaughter by gross negligence of 95 men, women and children.

“I recognise that these developments will be difficult for the families affected by the Hillsborough disaster.

“We have remained in regular contact with them throughout these proceedings and spoke with those present in Preston and Liverpool before informing the court of our decision.”

New investigations into the disaster began in 2014, resulting in an April 2016 determination of unlawful killing of all 96 victims. Original inquest verdicts were overturned in June 2017 and criminal charges were authorized against six individuals, including Duckenfield and Mackrell.

The three other men — former South Yorkshire Police chief superintendent Donald Denton, former SYP detective chief inspector Alan Foster, and the force’s then-solicitor Peter Metcalf — are set to go on trial for obstruction of justice later this year.

Liverpool have since released a statement, which can be read in full here:

“Liverpool Football Club would like to reiterate our support and admiration for the Hillsborough families, survivors and campaigners in light of today’s verdicts at Preston Crown Court.

While forthcoming legal proceedings restrict comment on the outcome of the trial, we acknowledge the guilty verdict for Graham Mackrell and can empathize with the frustration shared by everyone affected by the Hillsborough tragedy that the outcome was not definitive.”

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