A Liverpool fan from Ealing who was among the victims of the Hillsborough disaster was unlawfully killed, an inquest was concluded.
Joseph McCarthy, known to family and friends as Joe, was one of the 96 Liverpool supporters who lost their lives at an FA Cup semi final against Nottingham Forest in 1989.
A jury at the inquest into their deaths has said the they were unlawfully killed, and also said the fans were in no way to blame for the disaster, while criticised police planning and preparation for the cup tie.
Fresh inquests into the deaths of the Liverpool supporters , crushed to death in the Leppings Lane end of the Hillsborough Stadium, were ordered in 2012 after the High Court threw out the original accidental death verdicts which had stood for more than 20 years, and began in 2014.
Joe, a 21-year-old student who was studying in Sheffield, lived in Amherst Road and went to school at Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School in Kensington . His older brother Jeremy, 22 at the time, was also due to join him on the terraces but changed his mind at the last moment.
Jurors in the inquest were asked to come to a series of conclusions and answer a total of 14 questions when giving their conclusions. They answered ‘Yes’ to Question 6, which read: “Are you satisfied, so that you are sure, that those who died in the disaster were unlawfully killed?”
Other key points the jury, which had heard over two years of evidence before retiring earlier this month, reached were:
- There were “major omissions” in police planning and preparation for the semi-final
- Police response to the increasing crowds at Leppings Lane was “slow and uncoordinated”
- Errors by commanding officers contributed to the crush on the terrace
- Commanding officers failed to recognise pens were at capacity
- Design and layout of the crush barriers in pen three and four were not fully compliant with safety regulations
- Ambulance officers at the scene failed to ascertain the scale of the problem and the failure to call a major incident led to delays in responses to the emergency
- A lack of communication, coordination and command and control by police
At the beginning of the new inquests in 2014, Joe’s cousin Anthony Goggins read a statement at the purpose-built courtroom in Warrington.
The jury was told he was one of two children born to devout Roman Catholics Sean and Anne McCarthy, and attended Mount Carmel Roman Catholic Primary School in Little Ealing Lane, and grew up to be a dedicated sportsman and keen Scout member.
He was an award-winning gymnast, and when at Cardinal Vaughan captained the first XI football team, played for the cricket team and was also a prefect and chairman of both the debating society and the economic/business society.
'One of life's good guys'
Mr Goggins went on to describe Joe as “a natural leader, confident without being arrogant” and went on to say: “Joe was one of life’s good guys. He was genuinely a lovely human being, full of you with a zest for life. We all miss him.”
Hundreds of mourners attended his funeral on May 2 1989, held at Ealing Abbey. The Gazette reported at the time: “He was laid to rest in the colours of the club he loved.”
Members of the Hillsborough jury also had to complete individual questionnaires for each of the victims, recording a time and cause of death.