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Hillsborough disaster – manslaughter by way of gross negligence

Former Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield, the officer in charge of the match, is facing 95 charges of manslaughter by gross negligence.

Many will ask what manslaughter by gross negligence means and what the court examines in cases of manslaughter by gross negligence.

In general, the questions that arise in manslaughter by negligence cases are:

  1. whether there was a duty of care in any such case.
  2. whether there was a breach of that duty caused death.
  3. whether that breach should be characterised as gross negligence and therefore a crime.

It has been held in the House of Lords that the “The essence of the matter which is supremely a jury question, is whether, having regard to the risk of death involved, the conduct of the defendant was so bad in all the circumstances as to amount in their judgement to a criminal act or omission”.

It will be for the prosecution to bring forward evidence in respect of each of these questions and each case will very much turn on its own facts. No doubt prosecution and defence teams are considering each element of this case in detail.