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Witness describes crush at the Hillsborough turnstiles

Hillsborough Stadium Photo: PA

A Sheffield resident has told the Hillsborough inquests how he was caught up in a crowd by the turnstiles on the day of the disaster.

John Bartholomew lived off Leppings Lane in 1989 and described walking down to the stadium with his friend to see the police horses.

Speaking on a videolink from the city, the witness said: "We were stood on the footpath and they started pushing from the back because we slowed down before them.

We had to put our hands in front of us to put our hands on the shoulders of people to stop being pushed forward and on the floor.

As we got closer, we came to a standstill and the crowd at the back was still pushing."

The witness said the pair then decided to retreat.

Hillsborough Memorial Credit: PA

He told the court: "Getting out of the crowd was the difficult part. I was frightened of Connie or myself falling over a bottle on the floor or a can. There were that many there we had to struggle across."

Mr Bartholomew said he could hear screaming, shouting and bawling of people "in panic."

He and his friend moved to a piece of wasteland with a view of the turnstiles.

From there, he said, they watched fans being pushed against a wall and police asking fans to stop pushing.

He said: "I thought somebody would be killed at the turnstiles, crushed to death. I really did… Nobody was going anywhere. There was just more people piling into the queues, you know?"

The witness said it was "like a stampede" when exit gate C was opened. "It was like sand into an egg timer. They just disappeared in a mass," he said.

Hillsborough stadium Credit: PA

He returned to the ground later that afternoon after hearing, wrongly, that a wall had collapsed and said he saw a group of very angry supporters shouting at police.

He said: "They were shouting ‘You murdering b*****ds, you Yorkshire pigs.’ They were stood in front of the police faces shouting and the police stood there with restraint and proud to be... not associated with the injuries, but they were stood there in defiance of them and telling them to move on. It was disgusting really.

We had no idea what had happened."

The court heard he had described another youth saying to police: "I am going to come back and cut you to pieces."

He agreed that officers had ignored the remarks and a number of "decent folk" were shocked by his manner.

The witness said: "I could understand them being mad and upset, but they shouldn't have been shouting that to the police. The police hands were tied."

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