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Hillsborough: David Duckenfield was ‘too new’ to handle disaster, says ex-colleague | UK News

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A former South Yorkshire police sergeant has said that ex-colleague David Duckenfield was too new to the job to be in control of the ill-fated match at Hillsborough where 96 football fans were crushed to death.

Michael Goddard told a jury at Preston Crown Court that Superintendent Bernard Murray was actually in charge because match commander Duckenfield was “too new”.

Mr Goddard agreed with the barrister for Mr Duckenfield’s defence, Ben Myers QC, who suggested that his client was “basically a spectator”.

Mr Myers QC asked: “So for someone doing the role of match commander who hasn’t done it before it’s quite a steep learning curve?

“It’s an impossible learning curve, yes,” Mr Goddard replied.

The ex-sergeant told the court earlier that he had been a police cadet with Duckenfield.

He said that along with other officers the two were in the police control box overlooking the Leppings Lane terrace as the disaster developed.

Mr Myers asked the witness: “When you look back over the years with hindsight…at the time you were doing the best you could do in the time you had?”

Mr Goddard replied: “That’s correct yes.”

CCTV footage of the build up to the disastrous 1989 FA Cup semi-final was played in court alongside footage from the same camera at the same fixture from the previous year.

Jurors heard there was a clear risk to life at the stadium in 1989
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Jurors heard Superintendent Bernard Murray was actually in charge

Mr Goddard suggested that crowds arriving at Leppings Lane in 1989 initially gave no cause for concern and that the expectation in the police control box was that all fans would be in the stadium by kick-off at 3pm.

He said there was no suggestion at any stage from the Football Association or Sheffield Wednesday football club that the match should be postponed.

In relation to the images of fans being pulled from the overcrowded Leppings Lane terraces to the stand above, Mr Goddard said: “I firmly believe that that was a situation that was not in relation to overcrowding, it was in relation to getting a better view.”

Duckenfield denies a charge of the gross negligence manslaughter of 95 fans.

Under the law at the time, there can be no prosecution for the 96th victim, Tony Bland, because he died more than a year after the disaster.

The trial continues.

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