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 - November 5
The youngest victim of the Hillsborough disaster probably didn’t have a heartbeat by the time he made it to hospital, the inquests heard.
Huyton schoolboy Jon-Paul Gilhooley, who was just 10 when he died, had travelled to the semi-final on April 15, 1989, with his uncles and family friend Rodney Jolly.
The youngster, who was the cousin of former Liverpool FC captain Steven Gerrard, was last seen in pen three by Mr Jolly, who passed out in the crush, at about 3.03pm.
Police inspector Philip Woodward later described seeing Jon-Paul looking blue and motionless in a pile of bodies in the pen.
The court heard Jon-Paul was carried from the tunnel to the pens, through the inner concourse and to an ambulance by Graham Butler, a PC, at 3.21pm, before being taken to the Northern General Hospital.
At the hospital, staff used a heart monitor which showed Jon-Paul had no heartbeat, or was asystole.
Jon-Paul was confirmed dead at 3.50pm,
Professor Jerry Nolan, an expert in intensive care, said he thought Jon-Paul was at least unconscious when he was seen by Mr Woodward in the pile of bodies.
He said he thought by the time he arrived at hospital Jon-Paul did not have a heartbeat and was not breathing.
He said: “I think at that point it is almost certain he is in cardiorespiratory arrest, and the reason I say that is we have got all the facts that we have just discussed, but, more importantly, Jon-Paul is then placed on a monitor in the emergency department and they confirm asystole.”
The court heard Jon-Paul was given a shock and a normal heart rhythm was restored briefly - but Prof Nolan said that referred to the electrical rhythm of the heart and did not mean that he had a pulse or heartbeat.
Pathologists said Jon-Paul died of compression asphyxia sometime between 3.03pm and 3.50pm.
Professor Guy Rutty said because Jon-Paul was small he may have been smothered during the crush by being pushed into the backs of other people.
But Dr Nat Cary, another pathologist, said they were not suggesting that was the cause of his death.
He said: “We are not saying in his particular case that this was the definite mechanism that occurred, but it is a mechanism we have to consider because he is of short stature and, therefore, it could have occurred.”
Dr Cary said with Jon-Paul, as with many of the victims, it was not possible to say whether he was simply unconscious at the ground or if his heart had stopped beating.
He said: “You simply don’t know, certainly in the early stages, whether someone is simply unconscious, whether they are in respiratory arrest or whether they have gone into cardiac arrest.
“That will remain unknown for many individuals.”
The court also heard about the oldest victim of the disaster, Gerard Baron, a 67-year-old from Preston.
Experts said Gerard may have been more vulnerable to the crush because of heart disease recorded in his autopsy report.
But pathologists said his death was caused by the crush and not by his heart problems.
Prof Nolan said the post mortem showed Gerard had ischaemic heart disease - which meant a narrowing of the arteries which could make him prone to heart attacks.
He said: “That means if there is a strain on the heart, so under these circumstances it might be, for example, low oxygen levels, it could mean that that person was prone to another heart attack, for example.
“So it might make him vulnerable to the effects of both low oxygen levels and potentially also the direct compression of the heart as well.”
Pathologists recorded his cause of death as compression asphyxia.
Dr Nat Cary said: “We think it is entirely possible that this gentleman simply died with heart disease, not of it.”
The pathologists said Gerard’s death happened some time between the last time he was seen obviously alive on footage - 2.51pm - and 3.35pm, when he was given CPR on the pitch.
The jury also heard about student Joe McCarthy, 21, who was from London but had been studying in Sheffield.
Footage showed him alive in the pen at 2.56pm and then being carried out through a gap in the fence at 3.26pm - 20 minutes after the match was stopped.
Medical expert Dr Jasmeet Soar said: “I feel I can say with confidence that he was unconscious when he was removed from the pen, but I wouldn’t be able to comment on whether he was breathing or had a heartbeat.”
The court heard Norman Lewis, a PC, described seeing Joe on the pitch and said he felt his wrist briefly for a pulse but could not find one.
In his evidence he accepted his checks were “cursory” but said he did not give any CPR to Joe.
Dr Soar said Mr Lewis’s check of the pulse was likely to be unreliable because the artery in the wrist was small and far away from the heart.
He said: “Again I think I can say with confidence he was unconscious.
“He was probably or possibly not breathing, but, again, based on that evidence there is not enough information there to say whether he had a heartbeat or not.
“It is uncertain.”
He confirmed a thorough assessment of Joe was needed when he was on the pitch.
Brenda Campbell, representing Joe’s family, said: “And that’s what we don’t have with any reliability in the evidence that you have considered?”
Dr Soar says: “Yes. I have said that, that I don’t have confidence in the reliability of the assessment, in particular of the pulse.”
The pathologists said Joe died between 2.56pm, when he was last seen alive, and 3.55pm, when he was confirmed dead in the gymnasium.
Dr Cary added: “I would just make one further point, and it is a matter for the jury to consider, as to whether it is likely, on all the evidence, that anyone died much before 3pm.”