1. ITV Report

Hillsborough Chief Steward gives evidence at Inquests

A chief steward at Hillsborough on the day of the disaster told the inquests he heard that fans had broken down a gate.

John Castley was responsible for stewards and gatemen in the Spion Kop area, directly across the pitch from the Leppings Lane end.

He told the court that he heard the claim shortly before kick-off. "I don't recall who I heard it from but I do recall hearing that the fans had broken down a gate at the Leppings Lane end."

The court has previously heard that the gate had not been forced.

The witness told the court he went to a ramp between the Kop and the north stand and looked towards the other end of the ground. He said:

I could see fans climbing over – trying to climb over the fencing at the end and I also saw fans being pulled up into the upper part of the west terrace.

I thought that something was wrong. Something was badly wrong. It didn't look like a pitch invasion.

If it was a pitch invasion, people wouldn't be being pulled up into the upper west stand.

– John Castley, Chief Steward Hillsborough

Mr Castley told the inquests how an officer asked him to move advertising hoardings from around the pitch if police horses moved.

He said: "Next time I looked up there was an ambulance there. The horses had gone. We removed the hoardings as best as we could."

Stephen Simblet, representing ten of the bereaved families, said: "What action was called for was not people riding across on police horses, but to provide emergency attention to those who were in crisis wasn't it?"

"Yes," replied the witness.

The court heard he remembers what appeared to be a line of police officers standing across the pitch while, Mr Simblet claimed, "people from the stands were being left unattended on the pitch."

Hillsborough stadium Credit: PA

Mr Castley said he ran to the Leppings Lane end: "There were lots of injured people there and there were a few people trying to help them but there were lots of crying people."

The jury was told advertising hoardings were broken from the sides of stands and used as stretchers. Mr Castley used his first aid training to try to give assistance to some of the injured. He said:

There was a young man. He clearly wasn't breathing so I felt for a pulse and felt one. And as I felt for a pulse, I did mouth to mouth and eventually, it went on for some time, but eventually he coughed and spluttered. He obviously was breathing on his own.

– John Castley, Chief Steward Hillsborough

He said he then carried out heart massage on a man aged about 25 who was already being given mouth to mouth.

"That went on for some time but nothing seemed to - - but me and the person who was giving mouth to mouth didn't seem to do anything. Eventually someone came along with - - I don't know whether it was a stretcher or a hoarding and took them away."

He went to the stadium gymnasium where bodies were being taken, and returned to help an older gentleman with a head wound.

The witness then explained how he unsuccessfully attempted to resuscitate a man in his mid-twenties.

Hillsborough Memorial Credit: ITV Granada

A questionnaire ahead of the 1989 Taylor Inquiry asked Mr Castley if he had any views on the way the disaster was handled after the match was stopped.

The jury heard he answered: "More police officers should have rendered first aid."

In the same questionnaire, six weeks after the disaster, Mr Castley said he saw three or four fans assaulting a press photographer.

"As the police officers escorted the photographer away," he wrote, "I heard an officer say to him 'It’s your fault, you have been warned once already to keep away’."

The witness told the jury today: "He had been going around snapping photographs of the bodies of the injured people, getting right up close."