1. ITV Report

Police spotter describes Hillsborough disaster

A former police officer has described the moment he realised what was happening in the pens as the Hillsborough disaster unfolded.

Brian Walton was at the Sheffield Wednesday ground on the day of the 1989 tragedy as a spotter for Nottinghamshire Police.

Sheffield Wednesday grounds Credit: Press Association

He told the inquests how he assumed he was attending a public order situation and pitch invasion because he could see people on the pitch.

However, the witness said his appreciation of the situation "drastically altered" when he got closer to the Leppings Lane end.

"The doubt started to creep in. If these supporters are supposed to be aggressive, they're just walking around in a dazed state. They weren't aggressive towards me or to any other people that I saw at that time.

"I saw what I perceived to be a young woman with her face pressed up against the wire fencing and she was obviously – I made the assumption that she was deceased. She was dead."

– Brian Walton

In a report from the time, he wrote: "On reaching the west stand, I saw police officers throwing back persons into the crowd who were apparently trying to get onto the pitch."

Mr Walton told the jury: "Once I realised the situation of the people inside the pen, it was just a gut reaction to try and communicate with them in the best I possibly can. It was a futile gesture by myself. The people weren't able to do anything. They were just screaming and distraught and there was crying and there was pleading, telling me ‘I can’t move’ and wanting my help."

Sheffield Wednesday grounds Credit: Hillsborough Inquests

His report added: "It was absolute mayhem at this time with many police officers standing around apparently not knowing what to do."

The court heard how the witness had received first aid training shortly before the disaster. He told the court how he tried to assist a young man no older than 16 years old who was passed from the pen through an open gate. He wasn't breathing but he had a pulse that was beating frantically.

The witness said he resuscitated the young man and told a fan nearby to monitor his breathing.

"He started to retch and vomit. That’s my recollection. And I carried him a bit further away and asked a supporter to tend him, put him in the recovery position." "I can remember the frustration I felt being the other side of the fence and the time it took to get these people out. The people just seemed to keep coming out. The police officers were carrying them out. The casualties were numerous obviously."

– Brian Walton

Mr Walton will return to the inquests next year to give more evidence about his attempts to assist those who were either injured or dying.

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