27 years on and the curtain of lies is ripped to shreds as jury blames police for all 96 deaths at Hillsborough

hillsborough

April 15 1989 started off, for me, with a leisurely drive from London northwards on the M1 motorway to the midlands city of Coventry.

There, on that day, my second oldest nephew as well as being my only godson, was marrying his fiancée in the city’s cathedral.

After leaving the reception my then wife and I drove to another midlands town, Loughborough in Leicestershire, to visit long-standing friends of her family.

We didn’t have the car radio on, no news reports and so we had no idea what was going on in the world. In particular, we had no idea of the terrible events happening that afternoon in the ground of Sheffield Wednesday football (soccer) club. A ground that goes by the name of Hillsborough. My nephew’s wedding day was also that of the Hillsborough disaster but we only found out about that when we reached our destination in Loughborough.

A total of 96 Liverpool football fans died that day. They were crushed to death in appalling circumstances that have been argued about ever since. Another 500-plus were injured.

There have been stories, excuses, misinformation and lies – and that was just from the police as they sought to avoid any responsibility. Even the Press were taken in. Horrendous stories were written, most notoriously in The Sun daily newspaper. It published a front-page story headlined The Truth in which awful untrue allegations were made, placing the blame on Liverpool’s fans. It is now known that The Sun’s story was based on untrue ‘information’ from senior officers in South Yorkshire Police.

A coroner’s inquest was followed by other investigations as the families of those who died fought on, fought on for justice. Eventually, the original inquest verdicts were set aside and a new inquest was ordered.

This week, after hearing evidence for two years, the jury reached its verdicts. There is no need to go through all of them but the key ones are:

  • The 96 who died were ‘unlawfully killed’.
  • The behaviour of Liverpool fans did not add to a dangerous situation.
  • The police did make ‘errors or omissions’ that caused or contributed to the dangerous situation at the match and the crush on the terraces.

How those families have fought for justice for so long is beyond me but, four days ago, their amazing dedication and hard work brought tears of relief to a proud city and its people.

The current head of South Yorkshire Police, Chief Constable David Crompton, has since been suspended and I am sure that prosecutions of others must follow.

DuckenfieldIn fact, the man who was in overall command of police at Hillsborough, Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield (now retired) has admitted lying about events that day and must be in line for prosecution. The inquest jurors were instructed that they could only decide that the victims were ‘unlawfully killed’ if they were ‘sure’ that Duckenfield was ‘responsible for the manslaughter by gross negligence’ of those who died. By a majority of 7-2, that is what they decided.

Execution stayed: Beyond reasonable doubt? Really?

execution

 

 

 

 

 

 

Richard Glossip.  (pic: Sky News)

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin granted a 37 day stay of execution an hour after the US Supreme Court today (Wednesday) refused to consider new evidence.

——————————————————–

After a long legal fight ending in a 3-2 split decision of judges in the state criminal appeal court, a man convicted of murder in the US state of Oklahoma was due to be executed by lethal injection today, Wednesday.

He had lost his final legal bid to avoid being put to death. Only the Governor could order a stay.

Now, I am not going to enter or even start a debate about the rights and wrongs of any country or, as in the US, any state having capital punishment as an ultimate sanction. But I am going to question the competency of a judicial system that has convicted this man, Richard Glossip.

Let’s look at the undisputed facts of the case.

Barry Van Treese, who owned an Oklahoma City motel, was murdered in 1997. At that time, Glossip, now aged 52, worked there.

Justin Sneed, a handyman at the motel, admitted killing Van Treese with a baseball bat but said Glossip had paid him to do it.

He denies any involvement and says he has been ‘framed’.

Strangely, there was no physical evidence linking Glossip to the crime, just the testimony of the then teenager Sneed who escaped the death penalty in return for testifying against Glossip.

Sneed is serving a jail sentence, while Glossip still faces the death penalty.

What I find peculiar is that without any physical evidence, the prosecution’s case depended solely on the word of the person who admits carrying out the murder. And he became a prosecution witness as part of a deal with the District Attorney; a deal that meant he did not have to face the death penalty for his actions.

So, the court in Oklahoma had the word of one man against another – with no physical evidence.

Now, I may be missing something here but it seems to me to be impossible for anyone on a jury to say, after considering the testimonies of both men, that Glossip was guilty beyond all reasonable doubt. Hell, I would surely have had reasonable doubt.

But two juries did decide just that. Yes, somehow, he was convicted twice.

And that is why Richard Glossip’s life was almost ended today. I don’t know if Glossip is innocent but to me he was not proved guilty beyond all reasonable doubt and that means he should have been acquitted.

It is often said that if you are not guilty you have nothing to fear. It seems that may not be true in all parts of the US.

British justice with understanding and compassion

Meanwhile, in the UK, a woman who admitted stabbing a man to death has had her prison sentence reduced from 7 years to just 3½ years. She had been cleared of murder but convicted of manslaughter.sarah sands

Her victim, Michael Pleasted, was a convicted paedophile and was on bail awaiting trial on further charges of sexual assault on young boys.

The judge stated that he had reduced the sentence to such a level because Sarah Sands, 32, (pictured right) had lost control and afterwards had given herself up to police, admitted what she had done, had not attempted to conceal or dispose of any evidence and had shown remorse through the investigation and trial.

He described it as an extraordinary case and also said the he had taken into account that Sands is a single mother.

I can think of more than a few people who would have happily done the same thing as this woman.

(Sarah Sands’s pic: Metropolitan Police/PA)