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 24
A 14-year-old who died in hospital two days after the Hillsborough disaster appeared to show signs of life on the pitch, experts told the inquests.
Intensive care expert Dr Jasmeet Soar said Bootle teenager Lee Nicol’s heart had probably stopped before he was loaded into an ambulance at Hillsborough, but was restarted with advanced life support once at Sheffield’s Northern General Hospital.
Lee was found to be “brainstem dead” by doctors on April 17, 1989, although he was kept alive until the following day so his organs could be donated.
The court heard Lee was carried out of the terrace by police officers Keith Marsh and Hugh Jenkinson at about 3.13pm and then given mouth-to-mouth.
Dr Soar said a photo of the teenager lying on the pitch, attended by the two PCs, appeared to show him vomiting.
Medical expert Professor Jerry Nolan said: “We were of the opinion that it could well represent active vomiting, and the key thing is, if somebody is actively vomiting, then it implies probably some circulation and it therefore would be a sign of life, potentially.”
Lee was treated on the pitch by off-duty medical professionals Dr Michael Hutson and Dr Paul Innes.
Neither described seeing a response from him although Alan Trees, who had gone to the match with Lee, said he thought he saw him in spasm as he was treated on the pitch.
Dr Soar said he thought Lee had initially shown signs of life on the pitch.
He said: “My opinion is that either breathing efforts, or not, did restore some signs of life and there was some active vomiting there.
“But, those signs of life were lost again and that’s why, when Dr Hutson and Dr Innes are then involved with him, they don’t detect any signs of life.”
The court heard that Lee was put on a stretcher and taken to an ambulance at about 3.19pm.
At hospital he was given drugs and shocks and his heartbeat was restarted.
Lee was transferred to intensive care, but on the evening of Monday, April 17, doctors assessed him as brain dead.
Dr Soar said: “When Lee Nicol had his heart restarted, it was the fact that he was placed on a ventilator and on continuing advanced life support interventions that maintained his heartbeat for long enough for him to fulfil the legal criteria for death, which was loss of brainstem function.”
A post-mortem recorded a number of Lee’s organs had been donated, including his heart, lung and kidneys.
The court also heard about 15-year-old Philip Steele, from Southport, who had been in pen three with his brother Brian, until the two became separated in the crush.
Off-duty nurse John Boyle said he saw Philip on the pitch being treated by a spectator and St John Ambulance volunteer.
He went to help but said there was no response and he later went to help other casualties.
But Dr Soar said he wasn’t able to comment on Philip’s condition at the time Mr Boyle saw him, because he didn’t have evidence of a reliable assessment.
He said: “Although I think his description suggests he’s not breathing and not got a pulse, the issue is, we don’t have all the facts to say that was a reliable assessment, because we don’t know what happened when CPR stopped.”
The court heard Philip was later taken to the Northern General Hospital, but treatment on him was stopped after a doctor assessed him as dead.
Peter McDonnell, a 21-year-old from Aigburth, was removed from the pen at 3.27pm, but the jury was told there was no evidence of any attempts to resuscitate him.
Police officer Leslie Parkin was shown kneeling by Peter on the pitch for about 15 seconds and appearing to place a top over his head.
Dr Soar described Mr Parkin’s assessment of Peter as “a very brief check that on its own was unreliable”.
He added: “So hence my lack of confidence in saying anything more than he was likely to have been unconscious.”
But, forensic pathologists told the court an injury to Peter’s heart could suggest he had died during the crush.
A post-mortem report showed a tear to his heart, which pathologists Dr Philip Lumb and Dr Nigel Cooper said appeared to have occurred after Peter had died.
Dr Lumb said the injury was more likely to have been caused during the crushing than during any resuscitation.
Jenni Richards QC, on behalf of Yorkshire Ambulance Service, said: “Is this fair, this is one of the perhaps few cases where there is a strong pathological steer in terms of speed and time of death which would indicate, for the reasons you have given, a high likelihood that Peter died in the crush?”
The pathologists agreed.
But, the court heard another forensic pathologist, Dr Richard Shepherd, was of the opinion that the injury was caused during the autopsy process.
The pathologists agreed that the deaths of all three victims was compression asphyxia.
A teenage Hillsborough victim may have had a heartbeat when he was in an ambulance outside the ground, the inquests heard.
The court, in Birchwood Park, Warrington, heard Philip Hammond, 14, from Aigburth, was found by police officer Stephen Taylor at 3.17pm, in the tunnel leading from the central pens to the inner concourse.
Mr Taylor carried him to an ambulance on the service road running alongside the ground.
He said he and ambulance officer Jane Moffatt gave CPR in the ambulance and he then felt a pulse in Philip’s neck.
Intensive care expert Professor Jerry Nolan said when Mr Taylor felt the pulse it might have been that Philip’s heartbeat was restored after CPR.
He added: “Or it might be that there was always a heartbeat there, but they had been unable to feel a pulse to start with.”
He said evidence that CPR continued after the pulse was found suggested it wasn’t sufficient for them to stop treatment.
The court heard evidence of problems clearing large amounts of stomach contents from Philip’s mouth.
Prof Nolan said he believed Philip was probably in cardiac arrest as the ambulance made its way to hospital.
The jury heard Ms Moffatt had asked for oxygen after Mr Taylor found a pulse, but there was a delay in getting it as a fire officer had to be approached and asked to bring it to the ambulance.
Brenda Campbell, representing Philip’s family, suggested oxygen could have been critical for Philip at that point.
Prof Nolan said: “It is certainly possible that the availability of oxygen may have made a difference, but it is important also to add that the first thing is you need to have a clear airway, so you can at least get something into Philip’s lungs.”
Ms Campbell suggested that the delay in obtaining oxygen might have negatively influenced the outcome for Philip.
Prof Nolan said: “It might have done, yes.”
The court heard Philip was confirmed dead at the Northern General Hospital by 4.15pm.
His cause of death was given as compression asphyxia.