Hillsborough's 97th victim: Devastated family and Liverpool pay tribute to Andrew Devine, 55, as he dies 32 years after suffering horrendous injuries in disaster
The family of a Hillsborough survivor who has died at the age of 55, more than 30 years after suffering horrendous injuries in the disaster, have paid tribute to him.
Andrew Devine, from Mossley Hill, was 22 years old when he went to watch Liverpool take on Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup semi-final played in Sheffield on 15 April 1989. A coroner's inquest in Liverpool ruled he was unlawfully killed as a result of the disaster, making him the 97th victim.
Mr Devine was not expected to survive the day after his chest was crushed and his brain deprived of oxygen in the lethal crush which saw 96 fellow Liverpool supporters unlawfully killed in Britain's worst ever sporting disaster.
Having made it through the first crucial 24 hours, his parents were warned he would probably be dead within six months and they later learned nobody who had suffered such injuries had survived beyond eight years.
Despite being confined to a wheelchair, unable to speak and able to eat only puréed food, the love and support of Andrew's family kept him going.
But last night they released a statement confirming he had 'passed away yesterday at the premature age of 55' on Tuesday.
A coroner's inquest convened in the city the next day confirmed his death as an unlawful killing.
Liverpool FC also released a statement, saying the coroner's ruling as an unlawful killing provided a further 'tragic reminder of the toll that Hillsborough continues to take on all affected by it'.
Mr Devine's family describe him as a 'much loved son, brother and uncle'.
The statement says: 'It is with great sadness and a sense of immense loss that we can confirm that Andrew Devine passed away yesterday at the premature age of 55.
STATEMENTS FROM THE FAMILY OF ANDREW DEVINE AND LIVERPOOL FC FOLLOWING HIS DEATH
A statement from the family of Andrew Devine
It is with great sadness and a sense of immense loss that we can confirm that Andrew Devine passed away yesterday at the premature age of 55.
Our collective devastation is overwhelming but so too is the realisation that we were blessed to have had Andrew with us for 32 years since the Hillsborough tragedy.
We welcome the conclusion of the coroner, Mr Andre Rebello, made today at Liverpool Coroner's Court, that Andrew was unlawfully killed, making him the 97th fatality of the tragic events that occurred on April 15, 1989.
In the intervening years, Andrew has been a much loved son, brother and uncle. He has been supported by his family and a team of dedicated carers, all of whom devoted themselves to him.
As ever, our thoughts are with all of those affected by Hillsborough.
We would ask that our privacy is respected at this sad time.
Liverpool Football Club statement
Liverpool Football Club is deeply saddened by the passing of Andrew Devine, who died yesterday at the age of 55.
A lifelong Liverpool supporter, Andrew continued to attend matches at Anfield when possible despite suffering life-changing injuries at Hillsborough on April 15, 1989. In doing so he defied expectations that he would not survive for six months after the tragedy.
At an inquest held in Liverpool today, it was ruled that Andrew was unlawfully killed as a result of the disaster, providing a further tragic reminder of the toll that Hillsborough continues to take on all affected by it.
The thoughts of everyone at the club are with Andrew's family and his carers.
It should also be noted that Andrew's family have appealed for privacy and we would urge that this request is respected.
'Our collective devastation is overwhelming but so too is the realisation that we were blessed to have had Andrew with us for 32 years since the Hillsborough tragedy.
'We welcome the conclusion of the coroner, Mr Andre Rebello, made today at Liverpool Coroner's Court, that Andrew was unlawfully killed, making him the 97th fatality of the tragic events that occurred on April 15, 1989.
'In the intervening years, Andrew has been a much loved son, brother and uncle. He has been supported by his family and a team of dedicated carers, all of whom devoted themselves to him.
'As ever, our thoughts are with all of those affected by Hillsborough.
'We would ask that our privacy is respected at this sad time.'
Liverpool FC also released a statement which said: 'Liverpool Football Club is deeply saddened by the passing of Andrew Devine, who died yesterday at the age of 55.
'A lifelong Liverpool supporter, Andrew continued to attend matches at Anfield when possible despite suffering life-changing injuries at Hillsborough on April 15, 1989. In doing so he defied expectations that he would not survive for six months after the tragedy.
'At an inquest held in Liverpool today, it was ruled that Andrew was unlawfully killed as a result of the disaster, providing a further tragic reminder of the toll that Hillsborough continues to take on all affected by it.
'The thoughts of everyone at the club are with Andrew's family and his carers.
'It should also be noted that Andrew's family have appealed for privacy and we would urge that this request is respected.'
Andrew's sister Wendy and brother Graham spoke ahead of the 25th anniversary of the disaster in 2014 and said how the love and care their family has showed for Andrew had been the glue which had kept them together.
'There have been a lot of tears over the years, but we are lucky.
'Andrew survived, he is living at home with his mum and dad - and with 24-hour professional care - and is loved and cared for by his family.
'He is the centre of the family and the glue which holds us together.
'We are a tremendously close family and Andrew is a big part of that. A lot of families break apart, with family members living and working in different parts of the country, but we've remained together for Andrew. And family feuds are not an option for our family, because we have something far more important to do - be there for Andrew, the most important member of the family.'
Graham added: 'It's not just day to day life, it's everything - Christmas arrangements for example. Everything is geared towards Andrew.'
They also dismissed any idea of Andrew having been 'forgotten' outside the family, which was proven years later when James Milner stopped during Liverpool's Champions League victory parade to bring the trophy to the Devine home for Andrew to see.
Wendy stressed: 'He's not been forgotten. It's just that people don't know, and part of that is because mum and dad decided to stay away from the Press. To say he's forgotten sounds bitter, and we're not.
'Our hearts always go out to those families who lost loved ones and we have always supported them.'
TIMELINE OF A TRAGEDY: HOW THE HILLSBOROUGH DISASTER UNFOLDED ON THE AFTERNOON OF APRIL 15, 1989
Beginning of the day: South Yorkshire Police asked both clubs to ensure their fans arrived between 10.30am and 2pm for the game.
2pm: The Leppings Lane turnstiles began operating smoothly, but after 2.15pm the volume of fans increased.
2.30pm: The road was closed. Fans were asked over the PA system to move forward and spread out in the space. Officers considered delayed the kick-off but did not.
2.40pm: Large crowds had built up outside the turnstiles.
2.44pm: Fans were asked to stop pushing, though crowding was already bad and the turnstiles were struggling to cope.
2.47pm to 2.57pm: Some external gates were opened to relived pressure on the turnstiles - which caused fans to rush forward and crowd the pens even more. Pressure built up, and narrow gates in two of the pens were opened. Officers though fans were deliberately invading the pitch.
3pm: Kick-off. By this time the crush at the front of the pens was intolerable.
3.04pm: Liverpool player Peter Beardsley struck the crossbar of the Nottingham goal, causing fans to rush forward again. The huge pressure caused one of the crush barriers to break, making the situation even more dire for those pressed against it.
3.05pm: Ambulance staff began investigation.
3.05pm to 3.06pm: Police Superintendent Roger Greenwood decided the match had to be stopped and ran onto the pitch.
3.06pm to 3.08pm: Police called for a fleet of ambulances.
3.07pm to 3.10pm: South Yorkshire Police called for all available resources to come to the stadium.
3.08pm: Ambulance officers, under Mr Higgins, returned to the Leppings Lane end to treat a fracture victim. There were more spectators on the pitch. Some were distressed, some were angry.
3.13pm: An ambulance from St John Ambulance, the volunteer force, was driven around the perimeter of the pitch at the north-east corner. It was mentioned that there may have been fatalities.
3.15pm: The secretary of Sheffield Wednesday and the chief executive of the Football Association, Graham Kelly, went to the police control box to ask for information. Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield said there were fatalities and the game was likely to be called off. He also said that a gate had been forced, that there had been an in-rush of Liverpool supporters. This later transpired to not be correct.
3.29pm: By this time fire engines and more ambulances had arrived. One ambulance was driven onto the pitch.
3.56pm: Kenny Dalglish, the Liverpool manager, broadcast a message to all fans. He asked them to remain calm. The police had asked him to do so.
4.10pm: The match was formally abandoned and many fans returned home.
4.30pm: By this time, some 88 people had been taken by ambulance to the Northern General Hospital and some 71 to the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield by 42 ambulances.
5pm: The South Yorkshire coroner, Dr Stefan Popper, gave instructions for the bodies to be kept in the gymnasium until they had been photographed and identified. By the end of the evening 82 people had been declared dead at Hillsborough. 12 more were declared dead in hospital.
Another person, Lee Nicol, survived for two days on a life support machine before he, too, died. The 96th victim of the Hillsborough disaster was Tony Bland. He survived until 1993, but with severe brain damage.
The battle for justice: How victims' families continued the fight for more than three decades
- April 15 1989: Ninety-six football fans are fatally injured in a deadly crush as Liverpool play Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup semi-final at Sheffield Wednesday's Hillsborough ground.
- April 1989: Lord Justice Taylor is appointed to conduct a public inquiry into the disaster, with the West Midlands Police force later instructed to examine the role of its South Yorkshire counterparts.
- August 4 1989: An interim Taylor Report is published into the disaster after the submission of 3,776 written statements of evidence, 1,550 letters, 71 hours of video footage and the oral evidence of 174 witnesses.
- January 1990: The full Taylor Report finds the main reason for the disaster is the failure of police control and the decision to open Gate C without blocking the tunnel to central pens, calling them 'blunders of the first magnitude'.
- April 18 1990: South Yorkshire coroner Dr Stefan Popper begins the first inquests in Sheffield. A 3.15pm cut-off point is imposed so inquiries into lack of emergency response are ruled inadmissible.
- March 28 1991: After the longest inquest in British history to date, lasting 90 days, a verdict of accidental death is returned by a majority verdict of 9-2.
- November 1991: Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield, who was in charge of the police operation on the day of the disaster, resigns on a police pension due to ill health.
- March 1993: Families seek a judicial review of the inquest, which is initially dismissed, then appealed against, then rejected by the Royal Courts of Justice, which rules the original inquests should stand.
- May 1997: New Labour government home secretary Jack Straw appoints Lord Justice Stuart-Smith to conduct a 'scrutiny of evidence', but he concludes new inquests are not warranted.
- July 2000: Mr Duckenfield and the ground commander on the day Superintendent Bernard Murray stand trial in Leeds charged with manslaughter in a private prosecution brought by the families. Mr Murray is cleared but the jury fails to reach a verdict on Mr Duckenfield.
- November 2006: Anne Williams, whose son Kevin, 15, died in the disaster, submits her case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
- March 2009: The ECHR rules Mrs Williams's case should have been lodged earlier and is 'out of time'.
- April 15 2009: Minister Andy Burnham is barracked while speaking at the 20th anniversary memorial at Anfield. He raises the matter at Cabinet and three months later the Home Office announces full disclosure of all information to be looked at by an independent panel.
- September 12 2012: A Hillsborough Independent Panel (HIP) report is critical of blame put on to fans. Prime minister David Cameron offers in the Commons a 'profound apology' for the 'double injustice'.
- October 12 2012: The Independent Police Complaints Commission launches its biggest ever investigation into police in the UK, centred on officers' conduct over Hillsborough.
- December 19 2012: The High Court quashes the accidental death verdicts in the original inquests and orders new ones. The same day, home secretary Theresa May announces a new criminal probe to investigate 'all of the people and organisations involved - before, on, and after' the disaster.
- March 31 2014: New inquests begin at Birchwood Park, Warrington.
- April 26 2016: The inquest jury delivers its verdict, and finds that the 96 Liverpool fans were unlawfully killed. It finds that blunders by South Yorkshire's police and ambulance services 'caused or contributed to' their deaths, and exonerated Liverpool fans of wrongdoing. South Yorkshire Police Chief Constable David Crompton admitted the force got the policing of the match 'catastrophically wrong' and 'unequivocally' accepted the inquest jury's conclusions.
- June 28 2017: The Crown Prosecution Service announces six men will be charged following investigations into the disaster. Retired South Yorkshire Police chief superintendent Donald Denton, former detective chief inspector Alan Foster and solicitor Peter Metcalf are charged with doing acts with intent to pervert the course of public justice in relation to the process of amending statements. Former Merseyside and West Yorkshire chief constable Sir Norman Bettison is charged with four offences of misconduct in public office. Former Sheffield Wednesday secretary Graham Mackrell is charged with two offences of contravening a term of condition of a safety certificate contrary to the Safety of Sports Grounds Act 1975 and a health and safety offence. The CPS says Mr Duckenfield will be charged with manslaughter by gross negligence once a stay imposed after his earlier trial is lifted.
- June 29 2018: Judge Sir Peter Openshaw lifts the stay, meaning Mr Duckenfield will face trial. The prosecution decides not to proceed with one of the three offences Mr Mackrell is charged with.
- August 28 2018: Proceedings against Sir Norman Bettison are dropped by the prosecution, who say 'the state of the evidence has changed' following the death of a witness.
- January 14 2019: The trial of Mr Duckenfield and Mr Mackrell begins at Preston Crown Court. One of the two remaining offences Mr Mackrell is charged with is dropped.
- April 3 2019: After 29 hours and six minutes of deliberations, the jury finds Mr Mackrell guilty of failing to discharge his duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act. Jurors are unable to reach a verdict on Mr Duckenfield.
- May 13 2019: Mr Mackrell is fined £6,500 and ordered to pay £5,000 costs for failing to ensure the health and safety of fans arriving at the ground on the day of the disaster.
- October 10 2019: The retrial of Mr Duckenfield is opened.
- November 29 2019: After a six-week case, Mr Duckenfield is cleared of manslaughter by gross negligence. Families call the trial a 'disgrace'.
- April 20 2021: The trial of Mr Denton, Mr Foster and Mr Metcalf is opened at the Nightingale court sitting at the Lowry Theatre in Salford.
- May 26 2021: The three defendants are formally found not guilty after judge Mr Justice William Davis rules there is no case to answer.