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.
To view archive reports from each day of the inquest hearings, click here.
Courtesy of the Liverpool Echo - March 16
An ambulance officer who was meant to be the “eyes and ears” of the service at Hillsborough said he did not see fans being crushed on the Leppings Lane terrace.
Coroner Sir John Goldring reminded the jury of the evidence of station officer Paul Eason as he began to sum up evidence relating to South Yorkshire Metropolitan Ambulance Service (SYMAS).
The court, in Birchwood Park, Warrington, heard Mr Eason had been the first officer to approach the terrace as the disaster unfolded, but he assumed there was a “crowd disturbance”.
The inquests into the 96 deaths were told that on April 15, 1989, Mr Eason had been at the ground with fellow station officer Patrick Higgins and ambulancemen Stephen Chippendale and Leslie Worrall.
When Mr Eason gave evidence in December 2014 he said he was in a corner of the ground by the Spion Kop when he saw what he thought was a “scuffle” at the Leppings Lane end.
Sir John said: “It did not occur to him to get the binoculars from the ambulance to obtain a better view.
“To do so would have taken, he said, about 10 seconds.”
Footage showed Mr Eason and Mr Chippendale walking along the perimeter track to the Leppings Lane end at 3.03pm.
Mr Eason said: “I were thinking and looking at it and it looked like a crowd disturbance to me.
“I wondered whether there had been some sort of maybe fighting going on, or something like that, and people were trying to get out of the way.”
Video from 3.04pm on the day of the FA Cup semi-final showed the two ambulancemen in front of the pens where the crush was happening.
The coroner told the court: “He approached pens three and four.
“In response to a request he went to look at a young man with a suspected broken leg.
“At that point, he did not do anything further.
“He talked to no one.
“He did not look through the fences.
“He heard no cries or screams for help as he walked along the perimeter track.”
Mr Eason said he had been walking towards the pens when there was some “pushing and shoving” which he thought might escalate so he decided to take himself and Mr Chippendale away.
The jury was shown a series of photos of Mr Eason and Mr Chippendale standing on the perimeter track in front of the pens.
Sir John said: “Mr Eason said that he did not see the fans crushed up against the perimeter fence.
“He said ‘I possibly wasn’t looking for them’.
“He gave a similar account to the Taylor Inquiry.
“He was looking at people on the pitch.
“He wondered what they were doing. He did not recall asking them.”
Mr Eason, who said he knew his role included being the “eyes and ears” of the service at the Sheffield Wednesday ground, admitted there were a number of features where he “went wrong”.
The coroner said: “He agreed he did not find out whether or not there was a problem in the pens.
“He did not ask anyone what the problem was.
“He said: ‘I think the mistake that I made was presuming it was something it turned out not to be’.
“He agreed he could have considered looking into the front of the pens.
“He agreed he should have looked through the fences to see what the problem was.
“He thought too he should have spoken to a police officer or a St John Ambulance person or a fan to find out what was going on.”
The court heard he returned to his ambulance, which was packed with equipment including bolt croppers, before going back to the Leppings Lane end to tend to the man with the suspected fractured leg.
Mr Eason said when he went back to the terraces it was busier and more chaotic.
The coroner said: “He said in hindsight he should have looked at what was happening at the gates of the pens, looked into them and spoken to somebody.”
The court heard he declared a major incident at 3.21pm, although he told the inquests he realised there was a major crushing problem at 3.16pm, moments before he was called to help treat 14-year-old Lee Nicol, from Bootle, on the pitch.
Sir John said: “He agreed, although he did not think of it at the time, that valuable minutes had been lost as a result of his assuming the problem to be one of crowd disorder.”
When asked why it took him until 3.16pm to realise the extent of the problems, Mr Eason said: “I don’t know. I don’t know the answer to that. I don’t.”
The coroner said: “He was asked whether he had panicked and accepted that was possible.
“He accepted he might have been overwhelmed by the enormity of it all.”
Click here for a full transcript from March 16.