THE ‘extraordinarily bad’ failings of Hillsborough match commander David Duckenfield led to deaths of 96 Liverpool FC fans at the 1989 FA Cup semi-final, a court has heard.

A retrial of the former South Yorkshire Police chief constable began today, Thursday – with the 75-year-old denying the manslaughter by gross negligence of 95 Reds supporters at their match against Nottingham Forest, held at the home ground of Sheffield Wednesday on April 15 1989.

Jurors at a previous trial in January were unable to return any verdict on these charges, and were discharged.

Prosecution barrister Richard Matthews opened the retrial earlier today, telling Preston Crown Court that Duckenfield had ‘ultimate responsibility’ for the safety of the 50,000 spectators.

He added: "It is the prosecution's case that David Duckenfield's failures to discharge this personal responsibility were extraordinarily bad and contributed substantially to the deaths of each of those 96 people who so tragically and unnecessarily lost their lives.

"It was so bad, so reprehensible, so blameworthy and unforgivable that it amounts to a gross failure.

"The task of deciding the case against Mr Duckenfield has now been passed to you."

Warrington Guardian:

Mr Matthews told the court that all 24,000 Liverpool fans were directed to the Leppings Lane End of Hillsborough, where limited turnstiles resulted in a bottleneck of a very large crowd ahead of the 3pm kick-off.

Duckenfield, who was allowed to sit in the well of the court, allowed an exit gate to the stadium to be opened due to crushes building up outside the stadium.

Once through exit gate C, spectators were led to the central pens on the terrace where the fatal crush happened.

Mr Matthews said: "In short, once in and beyond gate C, the crowd was naturally drawn down the slope of the tunnel and into the confined area of the central pens – and David Duckenfield gave no thought to the inevitable consequence of the flood of people through gate C, nor did he make any attempt to even monitor what was occurring, let alone avert the tragedy."

Ninety-four of the victims died on the day of the disaster, while 14-year-old Lee Nicol died from his injuries two days later.

The court heard that the 96th victim Anthony Bland suffered brain damage and remained in a permanent vegetative state until he died in March 1993, which meant his death was out of the time to be classed as resulting from manslaughter.

Four Liverpool fans from Warrington were among the 96 killed that fateful day.

They were 19-year-old Ian ‘Ronnie’ Whelan from Padgate, 19-year-old Colin Ashcroft from Locking Stumps, 22-year-old David Benson from Penketh and 42-year-old Eric Hughes from Callands.

Warrington Guardian:

Clockwise from top left: Ian 'Ronnie' Whelan, Colin Ashcroft, Eric Hughes and David Benson

The trial continues.