Why Hillsborough Commander Was Charged With 95 Counts Of Manslaughter Not 96

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David Duckenfield has been charged with the manslaughter of all but one person who lost their lives at the hands of the Hillsborough Disaster.

Duckenfield, 72, of Ferndown in Dorset, was the presiding match commander on that fateful day 28 years ago, when 96 Liverpool FC fans died in such tragic circumstances. Today The Crown Prosecution announced he has been charged with their manslaughter by gross negligence.

But due to a legal quirk, Duckenfield will only be facing 95 counts.

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On April 15 1989, 96 Liverpool FC supporters died at the FA Cup semi-final between their club and Nottingham Forest at Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield.

Among them was Anthony Bland, known as Tony by his loved ones, who was left in a vegetative state after sustaining injuries in the crush.

At the time of his death the law prevented people from being found guilty of homicide where the death occurred more than a year and a day after injuries were inflicted.

Hillsborough Inquests

The Crown Prosecution Service announced in a statement:

We will allege that David Duckenfield’s failures to discharge his personal responsibility were extraordinarily bad and contributed substantially to the deaths of each of those 96 people who so tragically and unnecessarily lost their lives.

The offence clearly sets out the basis of those allegations. We are unable to charge the manslaughter of Anthony Bland, the 96th casualty, as he died almost four years later.

The law as it applied then provided that no person could be guilty of homicide where the death occurred more than a year and a day later than the date when the injuries were caused.

Hillsborough Inquests

Almost three decades on, and after a lengthy investigation that followed 17,000 lines of inquiry, Duckenfield is one of six men who face charges for their involvement in the worst sporting disaster in British history.

Former chief constable Sir Norman Bettinson will face four counts of misconduct in public office and former Sheffield Wednesday secretary and safety officer Graham Mackrell is charged with three offences regarding to health and safety at sporting events.

Former officers Donald Denton and Alan Foster, as well as force solicitor Peter Metcalf, are charged with intent to pervert the course of justice.

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Barry Devonside, whose son Christopher, 18, was killed in the disaster, told the BBC: “Everybody applauded when it was announced that the most senior police officer on that particular day will have charges presented to him.”

All defendants, other than Duckenfield, will appear at Warrington Magistrates’ Court on August 9 as criminal proceeding begin. No organisation will face corporate charges.

Let’s hope justice can be served and the grieving families can finally have some semblance of closure.