Hillsborough verdict: Sons and sisters among the 96 lives crushed

Oldest person to die in the stadium disaster was 67 while the youngest was just 10

Tributes outside Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough stadium on the day fresh inquests into the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, in which 96 football supporters were crushed to death, concluded with a verdict of unlawful killing. Photograph: Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images.

Tributes outside Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough stadium on the day fresh inquests into the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, in which 96 football supporters were crushed to death, concluded with a verdict of unlawful killing. Photograph: Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images.

 

Fathers and sons, mothers, sisters and brothers were all among the 96 who had their lives crushed in the Hillsborough tragedy.

The youngest was Jon-Paul Gilhooley, the 10-year-old cousin of future England and Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard. The oldest was ex-RAF war veteran and father-of-seven Gerard Baron (67).

Each fan had a tribute paid to them by their loved ones at the start of the inquests; stories of fans who got tickets at the last minute, mothers who waved off excited young sons never to see them again, two sisters, three pairs of brothers and a father and son.

The pain still felt by the families was deeply moving for everyone who heard it. Despite the passage of time, relatives were still bereft, confused and angry.

Seventy eight of the 96 were aged under 30; 89 were men and seven women.

The children of one victim, Inger Shah (38), were taken into care after her death.

Craig Fitzsimmons told of his father Vincent, who died aged 34.

As he spoke about still missing “my Dad” it was as if this now middle-aged man with a family of his own had been transported back to a boy who waved his father off and was still wondering why dad had not come home from the match.

Adam Spearritt (14) died after losing consciousness in the arms of his father, Eddie.

Mr Spearritt also passed out — waking the next day to be told the son he tried desperately to save was dead. He never forgave himself.

‘My son, my son’

Doting dad Thomas Howard (39) died alongside his son, Tommy Jr (14). David Lackey, another Liverpool supporter recalled the father repeatedly saying: “My son, my son.” Neither made it out of pen three alive.

Steven Brown’s wife Sarah was six months pregnant at the time. Steven (25) had desperately wanted to be a father, but never got to hold his daughter, Samantha.

A number of the fans killed had travelled north to Sheffield on the day, Liverpudlians who had, “got on their bikes and looked for work” to use the language of the 80s.

Several worked on the ships as seamen or in shipping, but there were also schoolboys, students, apprentices, engineers, an accountant, salesmen, joiners and builders.

Far from layabout Scouse hooligans, if the fans who died are in any way representative of the supporters, it is difficult to see them as anything other than a random cross-section of ordinary members of the public.

Sarah Hicks, 19, who turned down a place at Oxford to study chemistry at Liverpool University, died alongside her sister, Vicki (15), in pen three.

Her father, Trevor, was involved in desperate efforts on the pitch to save the girls. He said: “The loss of a child is one of the worst things that can happen to a loving parent.

“Loss of all your children is devastating...It is not that two is twice as bad. It’s that you lose everything. The present, the future and any purpose.”

PA

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