Former Doncaster top cop’s evidence to Hillsborough inquest

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No senior police officer appeared to be in charge in responding to the unfolding Hillsborough disaster, the inquest into the deaths of 96 Liverpool fans heard.

Police Inspector Tony Humphries, who later rose to become Doncaster district commander, described how he was greeted with the scene of “a pile of bodies” when he first went on to the Leppings Lane terraces at the 1989 FA Cup semi-final.

The only instruction he received beforehand from a superior was to “get in there and help with the injured”, the now retired officer said.

Mr Humphries said he could not see the pitch as he entered from a tunnel that led to the rear of the overcrowded central pens of the terrace where supporters were crushed.

Christina Lambert QC, asked him whom he thought was leading the response to the tragedy.

Mr Humphries replied: “Everyone was basically talking at once over the radio. There did not seem to be anybody that was actually pulling it together.”

He said he accepted responsibility where he was positioned and took it upon himself to take charge and direct constables and sergeants in assisting casualties.

Mr Humphries said initially they were concerned with bringing fans out of the terraces, down the tunnel and to a concreted area in the stadium concourse. It was there that injured people were put to one side and those who were considered dead were on the other, he added.

He described how he left one young male who he had helped bring out of the tunnel and whom he thought had died.

Asked if he accepted that some of those he considered had died may not have done and could have been revived, Mr Humphries said he was at the time concerned with “getting on with what he was doing” and “other people needed seeing”.

Miss Lambert asked: “Did you ever receive instructions from anyone more senior than you as to what to do?”

“No,” replied Mr Humphries.

He told the jury it was “a very highly charged” atmosphere and the mood of the Liverpool fans changed as the afternoon went on.

He said: “They were really angry, blaming us for being murderers and things like that and swearing and shouting.”

Mr Humphries made a note of the day’s events in his pocket notebook the following day, the jury heard.

He said he went on to give a fuller detailed account in a statement made about a week later as part of the West Midlands Police independent investigation into the disaster.