Header Image Source: Photo by Peter Glaser on Unsplash
Hillsborough disaster. Ross Kinniard / Empics Sports (via The Guardian)
The cover of The Sun, 1989 (via Wikipedia)
"The Hillsborough disaster was a fatal human crush during a football match at Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England, on 15 April 1989. It occurred during an FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest in the two standing-only central pens in the Leppings Lane stand allocated to Liverpool supporters. Shortly before kick-off, in an attempt to ease overcrowding outside the entrance turnstiles, the police match commander David Duckenfield ordered exit gate C to be opened, leading to an influx of supporters entering the pens. This resulted in overcrowding of those pens and the crush. With 97 deaths and 766 injuries, it has the highest death toll in British sporting history. Ninety-four people died on the day; another person died in hospital days later, and another victim died in 1993. In July 2021, a coroner ruled that Andrew Devine, who died 32 years after suffering severe and irreversible brain damage on the day, was the 97th victim. The match was abandoned but was restaged at Old Trafford in Manchester on 7 May 1989 with Liverpool winning and going on to win the FA Cup.
In the following days and weeks police fed the press false stories suggesting that hooliganism and drunkenness by Liverpool supporters had caused the disaster. Blaming of Liverpool fans persisted even after the Taylor Report of 1990, which found that the main cause was a failure of control by South Yorkshire Police (SYP). Following the Taylor Report, the Director of Public Prosecutions ruled there was no evidence to justify prosecution of any individuals or institutions. The disaster also led to a number of safety improvements in the largest English football grounds, notably the elimination of fenced standing terraces in favour of all-seater stadiums in the top two tiers of English football.
The first coroner's inquests into the Hillsborough disaster, completed in 1991, ruled all the deaths accidental. Families rejected the findings, and fought to have the case re-opened. In 1997, Lord Justice Stuart-Smith concluded that there was no justification for a new inquiry. Private prosecutions brought by the Hillsborough Families Support Group against Duckenfield and his deputy Bernard Murray failed in 2000. In 2009, a Hillsborough Independent Panel was formed to review the evidence. Reporting in 2012, it confirmed Taylor's 1990 criticisms and revealed details about the extent of police efforts to shift blame onto fans, the role of other emergency services, and the error of the first coroner's inquests. The panel's report resulted in the previous findings of accidental death being quashed, and the creation of new coroner's inquests. It also produced two criminal investigations led by police in 2012: Operation Resolve to look into the causes of the disaster, and by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) to examine actions by police in the aftermath.
The second coroner's inquests were held from 1 April 2014 to 26 April 2016. They ruled that the supporters were unlawfully killed due to grossly negligent failures by police and ambulance services to fulfil their duty of care. The inquests also found that the design of the stadium contributed to the crush, and that supporters were not to blame for the dangerous conditions. Public anger over the actions of their force during the second inquests led to the suspension of SYP chief constable David Crompton following the verdict. In June 2017, six people were charged with offences including manslaughter by gross negligence, misconduct in public office and perverting the course of justice for their actions during and after the disaster. The Crown Prosecution Service subsequently dropped all charges against one of the defendants..."
— Source: Hillsborough Disaster Wikipedia
Header Image Source: Photo by Elijah Mears on Unsplash
Wedding day of Peter Reyn-Bardt and his wife Malika Maria de Fernandez
Tollund Man located at Silkeborg Museum in Denmark (via ScienceHistory.org)
"The bog body of Lindow I was discovered on 13 May 1983 by commercial peat cutters, Andy Mould and Stephen Dooley. They first noticed an unusual item on the conveyor belt, which was similar in shape and size to a football. They took the object from the conveyor to examine it more closely. After they removed the adhesive remains of peat, they realized they had found an incomplete preserved human head with attached remnants of soft tissue, brain, eye, optic nerve, and hair.
The police were summoned to deal with the remains, and suspected a crime. They launched a murder investigation. For over two decades, a local 57-year-old man Peter Reyn-Bardt, had been under suspicion of murdering his estranged wife, Malika de Fernandez, and of disposing of her body. When questioned, Reyn-Bardt assumed that the skull fragment came from his wife's body, and said, "It has been so long I thought I would never be found out." He admitted to strangling her, dismembering her body, and burying the remains in a drainage ditch.
Because the rest of De Fernandez' remains could not be found, Detective Inspector George Abbott sent the head to Oxford University for further study. Carbon-14 dating of the skull fragment returned a date of 1740 ± 80BP (c. 250 AD), suggesting that it dated back to Roman Britain.
After the origins of the head were revealed, Reyn-Bardt withdrew his confession; despite this and the fact that no trace of Fernandez' body was found, he was brought to trial at Chester Crown Court in December 1983. At trial, he pleaded guilty to manslaughter. He told the jury that his estranged wife had come to the cottage where he lived with another man; that she had threatened to expose his homosexuality (still criminalized under British law at the time); and that his wife died during an argument over money. He said he could not recall how his wife died, but that he had no doubt he caused her death. The jury found him guilty of murder. He spent the rest of his life in prison.
Today, only the bony remains of the skull from the discovery exist, because of the handling of evidence by the police. The remains of the skull were anthropologically identified as probably belonging to a 30–50-year-old woman. Recent studies have suggested doubt about the sex of the individual.
Another body was recovered in the area in 1987, and is referred to as Lindow III. It was headless and has a vestigial thumb. Some scientists believe that this was the body of the Lindow Woman. A theory described the killings of both Lindow I and II as ritual sacrifice attributed to the Celtic enclaves..."
— Source: Lindow Woman Wikipedia
BBC News article “Hillsborough: Timeline of the 1989 stadium disaster”
BBC News article “How the Hillsborough disaster Unfolded”
BBC Podcast - Hillsborough: The Full Story
BBC News video “What happened at Hillsborough?”
The Report of the Hillsborough Independent Panel
SKY News Documentary - Hillsborough: Truth, Lies & Justice
Britannica.com article “Hillsborough disaster”
Science History article - “Bodies in the Bog: The Lindow Mysteries” by Dave Sammut and Chantelle Craig
Wikipedia article - “Lindow Woman”
The Liverpool Echo “Beauty Who Wed a Beast” article
Mail & Guardian article “Unearthing the Living Dead”
Smithsonian Magazine article “Europe’s Famed Bog Bodies are Starting to Reveal Their Secrets” by Joshua Levine
The Daily Courier article “Ancient Skull Leads Man to Confess He Killed Wife”