A court has heard claims that a mounted police officer saw Liverpool fans walking over others and crawling under horses to get into Hillsborough stadium in 1989.
The fresh inquests into the deaths of 96 men, women and children have now entered their twentieth week at the specially-constructed coroner's court in Birchwood, Warrington.
The jury was told that witness David Scott had eight years' experience as a mounted officer when he policed the area outside the Leppings Lane turnstiles on the day of the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.
The retired PC said he attempted to form a cordon with other officers by the perimeter gates in front of the turnstiles. He said: "It was an impossibility. Everybody wanted to get into the ground but nobody wanted to queue."Mr Scott told the inquests that he vaguely remembered the perimeter gates opening and fans surging towards the turnstiles.
Christina Lambert QC, counsel to the inquests, asked: "Did you open them?"He replied: "I may have done, or I may have assisted others to open them."Ms Lambert quizzed him further: "What was the effect of the opening of the gate?"
The witness said: "It seemed to be an excuse for the people to surge towards the turnstiles to get into the ground and the effect then was they either tried to jump the turnstiles by jumping over the interior barriers of the turnstiles or they climbed onto the perimeter wall where the turnstiles are to get over the way and drop into the other side of the ground."
Mr Scott told the court that he saw some fans stumble and fall in an eagerness to get in. Others, he said, walked over those who had fallen."On several occasions I do recollect actually pleading with the fans not to be pushing from behind, because they were trampling their fellow supporters but I was only met by a torrent of abuse," he added.Earlier, the witness said he saw fans trying to crawl between the legs of his horse to get through the gates.Asked about the mood of the crowd at one point, he said: "It was quite intimidating because, trying to ask people to move, in return all I was getting was foul and abusive language thrown at me, I was getting beer thrown at me and was being spat upon as well by members of the crowd outside."
Mark George QC, representing 22 of the bereaved families, said: "I am suggesting to you that you have exaggerated the bad behaviour of the fans on that day."The witness replied: "No, far from it. I beg to differ on that."
The court heard the witness made his first account of events nearly a fortnight after the tragedy.
Families' barrister, Peter Wilcock QC, asked: "Was that as soon as reasonably practicable after the events in question?"Mr Scott answered that it was his first opportunity to make his notes."I am a mere minion in a big chain," he said.The court heard that the witness made his first criticisms of policing in a statement he made in October 2013.
Mr Wilcock asked: "Had you been told when you were given your orders not to make your statement until 13 days afterwards to what sort of information should have gone into your statement?""No," he replied, "We were under no duress whatsoever as to what to put in our accounts."The lawyer continued: "Your evidence is just coincidence that when you made your written accounts that you were obviously casting blame on the Liverpool supporters but casting a blind eye as to the criticisms you have of your own police force?""No. Absolutely not," he said.The retired officer said he had made a distinction between well-behaved and badly-behaved supporters in his initial account of events.The jury was told that Mr Scott suffered a stroke in 2012 which has affected his memory "to an extent".