A British man has been confirmed as the 97th victim of the Hillsborough Stadium disaster, 32 years after the tragedy.
Andrew Devine was badly injured in a crush of Liverpool football fans at the stadium in Sheffield on 15 April 1989. He died, aged 55, in a Liverpool hospital on Tuesday.
After an inquest, Liverpool Coroner Andre Rebello said Devine died of aspiration pneumonia, which he had been left vulnerable to after the injuries he suffered at Hillsborough.
“I find that it is more likely than not that Andrew Devine was unlawfully killed, making him the 97th fatality from the events of April 15, 1989,” the coroner said, adding that he was “unlawfully killed”.
Devine’s family have welcomed the coroner’s verdict and said they were devastated by his death but also “blessed to have had Andrew with us for 32 years since the Hillsborough tragedy.”
“In the intervening years, Andrew has been a much-loved son, brother, and uncle,” a family statement read.
“He has been supported by his family and a team of dedicated carers, all of whom devoted themselves to him. As ever, our thoughts are with all of those affected by Hillsborough.”
Liverpool players and staff observed 97 seconds of silence on Thursday in honour of Devine at their preseason training camp in Tyrol, Austria. In a statement, the club said they were “deeply saddened” at the news.
“A lifelong Liverpool supporter, Andrew continued to attend matches at Anfield when possible despite suffering life-changing injuries at Hillsborough.”
“In doing so he defied expectations that he would not survive for six months after the tragedy.”
Before the 1989 FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham at Hillsborough, overcrowding led to a crush inside the stadium which killed 94 fans. Another supporter died in hospital days later, and the 96th victim died in 1993.
Authorities spent years blaming fans for the disaster, and an initial inquest ruled the deaths an accident. But a campaign by survivors and victims’ families succeeding in getting the verdicts overturned in 2012.
A second inquest in 2016 concluded that the victims were unlawfully killed as a result of failings by police, the ambulance service, and Sheffield Wednesday Football Club, which ran the stadium.
Several former police officers and a lawyer were charged years after the disaster with attempting to pervert the course of justice, but no one has been convicted.
Source: Euro News