By Sadie Robinson
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Friend of ten year old Hillsborough victim says police ‘lost control of the turnstiles’

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Issue 2454
A memorial to victims of the Hillsborough football disaster
A memorial to victims of the Hillsborough football disaster (Pic: Ben Sutherland/flickr)

The Hillsborough inquests heard evidence relating to the youngest victim of the disaster, Jon-Paul Gilhooley, last week.

Jon-Paul was just ten when he died after being caught in the crush at the Sheffield football stadium on 15 April 1989.

Rodney Jolly accompanied Jon-Paul and they arrived at the ground at around 2.40pm. 

Jolly told the court that when they arrived, “The police had lost control of the turnstiles.”

Philip Woodward, a police inspector on duty at Hillsborough, went into pen 3 after the crush. 

He told the court, “It was like walking into hell. I saw a young boy, probably aged about 10, amongst a pile of bodies.”

He said in 1989 he was “probably not very confident” in making an assessment of vital signs. 

Woodward confirmed he did not assess Jon-Paul in the pen but thought him dead. He said he didn’t know if this perception was accurate.

Jon-Paul was later found in the tunnel leading to pens 3 and 4. Officer Graham Butler arrived at the ground at around 3.10pm. 

He took Jon-Paul to an ambulance but didn’t check for breathing or a pulse. He said, “I thought he might have had a chance.”

Ambulance driver Harold Wadsworth helped transport Jon-Paul to the Northern General hospital. 


He gave CPR but didn’t check for a pulse during the journey.

In his 1989 statement Wadsworth said Jon-Paul was “worth giving treatment to”.

Jane Moffatt was also in the ambulance. She said there “didn’t appear to be any signs of life”.

She said Jon-Paul was vomiting as she tried to treat him and his airway was difficult to clear.

Former officer Mark Llewellyn checked for a pulse in the ambulance but couldn’t feel one. Llewellyn said he had very little experience of feeling for pulses.

Karen Thackeray, a nurse working at the Northern General hospital, is thought to have assisted Jon-Paul. 

She said she couldn’t say how long staff tried to resuscitate him before they stopped.

The court heard that there is no documentation for Jon-Paul from the A&E department. He was certified dead at 3.50pm.

Dr Edward Walker, who treated 14 year old victim Adam Spearritt, also gave evidence. He didn’t make any medical notes on the day of the disaster.

Walker said the fact he had to give Adam drugs to insert a tube in his windpipe means Adam must have had some consciousness at the time.

Judy Khan, who was asking questions on behalf of victims’ families, said the court will hear that Adam had a pulse established while being treated, but subsequently died.

The inquests continue.

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