The Hillsborough inquests commenced on March 31, 2014 and are the subject of reporting restrictions that have been imposed by the Attorney General's office. Liverpool Football Club is respectful of these restrictions and will therefore only be making available updates from other media channels for the duration of the inquest.
The report below - and the witness testimony contained within it - does not necessarily reflect the views of Liverpool FC. Please be aware that the reports on these pages will contain evidence about the day of the disaster which may be distressing.
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Courtesy of the Liverpool Echo - October 22
The 3.15pm cut off time imposed in the original Hillsborough inquests was “wholly wrong”, the new hearings were told.
The court, in Birchwood Park, Warrington, heard from pathologists and medical experts ahead of individual pathology evidence on each of the 96 victims.
Judy Khan QC, representing 77 of the families, asked pathologist Dr Nat Cary about the 3.15pm cut off time for evidence heard by the original inquests into the deaths at the semi-final on April 15, 1989.
Ms Khan said: “The 3.15pm cut off was wholly wrong and arbitrary and there was no pathological basis for it. Would you agree with that?”
Dr Cary said: “Yes. I would.”
He told the court he had thought that at the time of the first inquests, which were opened by coroner Dr Stefan Popper in 1990.
He said: “I thought, as a pathologist in those days, I thought, I don’t know of any means of knowing when someone died.”
The jury was told by medical experts that it was possible some of the victims had slight heartbeats when they were taken out of the pens.
Professor Jonathan Hardman, a professor in anaesthesia, said: “There are examples of casualties who did have a low cardiac output state.”
He added: “They will have a low cardiac output, they may have a respiratory arrest.
“We certainly cannot provide a number, but we are very confident that such states must have existed.”
But Dr Jasmeet Soar, a consultant anaesthesia and intensive care, said: “I think it is possible that some victims would have been at a stage in their process that led to cardiac arrest or didn’t quite lead to cardiac arrest where they may have had a trickle of blood flow.”
He adds: “That is almost equally as bad as your heart stopping altogether.”
The court heard that during the evidence relating to each of the victims experts would give a bracket of time when they were believed to have died.
Professor Jerry Nolan, a consultant in intensive care said: “It will be very, very rare if at all we can give a very specific time.
“It is going to be a time period, a bracket of time.”
Dr Cary said: “What I hope we will be able to do for the individuals will be to describe the most likely time that they first got into a state of collapse, whether it be unconsciousness or respiratory or cardiac arrest.”
He added: “One of the great difficulties here, having looked at a lot of the cases, is that there is a period of about 15 minutes after kick off when we know very little about what happened.”
Pathologists had originally hoped to use data on the brain weights of the victims to establish whether they had survived for a period of time after the crush.
But the court heard that was unlikely to be possible because the measurements, taken when the post mortems were done in 1989, were unreliable.
Dr Cary said: “We felt that looking at brain weight might be a way of investigating whether people had brain swelling or not.
“Though that it might, I very much emphasise the word might, address the issue as to whether someone had a more prolonged period of survival, having been recovered from the pen.”
But, when asked what he thought they could tell from that data, he said: “Disappointingly, I don’t think very much at all.
“The reason for that is, well there are several reasons for it.
“The first is, none of us are entirely convinced we can rely on the original brain weight.”
He added: “The way in which brains would be weighed in the autopsy room could be subject to error, the scales may not be entirely accurate, there may be body fluid in the scales when a brain is put into the scales.”
The jury was told there was no pattern to the way in which fans had been affected by the crush in the central pens of the Leppings Lane terrace.
Ms Khan said: “We know that the vast majority of people in the two pens affect, 3 and 4, were survivors.
“The vast majority of thousands that were in the two pens.
“We also know that only a handful of people were deceased in pen four.”
Prof Nolan said: “I think it tells us that there were individuals who were exposed to a variety of different compression forces probably over a different duration.
“Even though there were individuals who were literally side by side, whether that is to do with their body size, their exact position, a whole number of factors, but for whatever reason, they were not getting exposed to the same sustained compression as the person next to them.”
The court was shown a photo of the crowd at the front of the pen.
Ten of the victims were identified on the picture, but among them were two survivors.
Prof Nolan said: “I think there are clearly many individuals being subjected to a lot of pressure, but it is very difficult to know for each specific individual precisely how much force is being applied to them.”
Professor Charles Deakin, a consultant in cardiothoracic anaesthesia and intensive care, agreed the time people were removed from the pen could be a factor.
He said: “Obviously the earlier you are retrieved from the pen, if you are unconscious, the earlier you can be assessed and the earlier that basic life support can be started.”
A fan who suffered a cardiac arrest in the pens at Hillsborough went onto survive, the inquests into the 96 deaths heard.
The court was shown footage of supporter Gary Currie being treated on the pitch by Dr Glyn Phillips, a GP who was at the match as a fan.
The jury was told he had gone on to survive the disaster.
Intensive care consultant Professor Jerry Nolan said: “It is our view that he was probably in cardiac arrest, but that because he was out of the pen relatively early, had high quality CPR instituted relatively early, they may all be factors that helped that individual survive.”
Dr Jasmeet Soar, a consultant in anaesthesia and intensive care, said: “He had a very early effective intervention by someone who clearly knew how to assess and do CPR relatively early on.”
Judy Khan QC, representing 77 of the families, asked for his views on Mr Currie’s survival had he been carried to the other end of the pitch after being removed from the pen.
Dr Soar said: “If he’d been in cardiac arrest and placed on a hoarding, he would not have survived.”