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 - July 3
A Liverpool fan told the Hillsborough inquests he “stood guard” over a victim on the pitch.
The court, in Birchwood Park, Warrington, heard evidence about 34-year-old Vincent Fitzsimmons as the jury sat for a 200th day.
Footage showed the dad-of-one, who was born in Liverpool but lived in Ashton-in-Makerfield, lying on the pitch with a black coat over him while Liverpool fan Stephen Mitton stood by the side of him.
Photos and footage showed Mr Mitton standing with Vincent at 3.24pm and appearing to stay with him for about five minutes, before helping to place him onto a stretcher and carrying him to the gymnasium.
He told the court: “I was looking round for my mate because I couldn’t find him and I was just looking at different bodies, waiting for something to happen and nothing was happening.
“I knew the lad had to be moved. So I just sort of stood with him.”
He was seen on video adjusting the coat which had been laid over Vincent.
Mark George, representing Vincent’s sister Dr Dorothy Griffiths, said: “I think you described in one statement that you were effectively standing guard over Vincent and that is probably a fairly good description, isn’t it?”
Mr Mitton said yes.
The court heard Vincent had travelled to the FA Cup semi-final on April 15, 1989, on a coach with friends.
In a statement which was read to the court, friend John Richardson said they had been delayed by roadworks and had arrived at the Leppings Lane entrance to the ground at about 2.50pm.
He said they realised exit gate C was open and went through it, down the tunnel and into pen three of the terraces.
He said they were pushed down the pen by surges in the crowd and he lost sight of Vincent.
Mr Richardson’s brother Graham, an Everton fan who had gone with them to the game, said he went through gate C with Vincent but the last time he saw him was in the tunnel.
In a statement he made in 1989, he said: “The tunnel was very packed and I had no choice as to where I went.”
Footage from the day showed Vincent being carried out of pen three at 3.21pm by police officers, who had formed a line outside the gate to remove casualties.
Richard Shimwell, who was a police constable in 1989, was seen kneeling down next to Vincent.
Mr Shimwell said Vincent’s face was purple and his eyes were bloodshot and glazed.
He told the court: “I thought from the moment I took hold of him that he was dead.”
In a statement, Mr Shimwell described doing mouth-to-mouth while a St John Ambulance volunteer performed chest compressions on Vincent.
He said another volunteer brought an oxygen cylinder and he put the pipe into Vincent’s mouth.
He said: “The other St John’s man continued to give massage for a short while longer before he said ‘he’s dead, forget it’.
“I closed the man’s eyes and walked back toward the chain of officers passing bodies from the open gate.”
He said he placed his police coat over Vincent, which had his collar number on.
The court heard Mr Shimwell’s collar number was found written on Vincent’s hand after he had died.
The jury was told that Vincent was pronounced dead by a doctor in the gymnasium at the ground and was identified by his partner, Marjorie Wilde, at the Medico-Legal centre in Sheffield the next day.
Speaking outside court, his sister Dr Dorothy Griffiths said: “For the first time since the terrible tragedy, I and my family can say that we now know what happened, we now have the chance to say thank you to everybody that tried to help Vincent.
“It gives us great comfort to know that Vincent who was loved and liked by so many was not abandoned or left on his own. To all those who tried to help Vincent and tried to give him some dignity and respect, the knowledge of your immense kindness and humanity have given us huge comfort and hope for the future.
“Our thoughts are with you and whoever helped on that day, I need to publicly say that you made a difference then and you have made a difference now. Thank you for everything that you did.”
Vincent’s son Craig, who was just nine when his dad died, was also in court for the hearing.
Hillsborough victim Kevin Williams, 15, seemed “alive” as he was treated on the pitch, a Liverpool FC fan told the inquests earlier today.
Stephen Mitton, who had been in pen three during the crush, was shown on footage at 3.28pm standing next to Vincent Fitzsimmons on the pitch as Formby teenager Kevin was brought out of the pens.
A group of people were seen treating Kevin.
Mr Mitton said: “I remember looking across at the young lad from where I was stood.
“To me, his face looked different from the other dead people.”
He added: “It just looked as though he had a bit of colour in him.”
He confirmed he was standing about a metre or so away from Kevin and could see people around him.
He told the court: “The way they were working on him, I actually thought he was still alive.”