Hillsborough inquest hears details of St Helens fan’s final moments

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A Liverpool FC fan has told how a supporter from St Helens who died at Hillsborough feared the central pens were too full.

Nicholas Joynes, 27, died with pal Francis McAllister along with 94 others at the FA Cup semi-final.

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez (left) John Power from Cast (right) and Pat Joynes who lost her son Nicholas in the disaster at the launch of the Fields of Anfield Road CD in aid of the Hillsborough Family Support Group at Picket in Liverpoo

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez (left) John Power from Cast (right) and Pat Joynes who lost her son Nicholas in the disaster at the launch of the Fields of Anfield Road CD in aid of the Hillsborough Family Support Group at Picket in Liverpoo

The inquest into all the 96 deaths heard from Francis’s brother-in-law Robert Thomas told how the friends arrived at the ground at around 2.45pm but didn’t go through the turnstiles.

He said: “I was pulled out, under a barrier, by a police officer, and my group was encouraged to go through the gates, gate C.

“As we got into the tunnel, I was leading at the front, we noticed that it was very busy at the front.

“There was too many people there.

“So I managed to get to the side of the tunnel, to the wall, and come back, like a U, if you want, for a better word. Nicky and Francis were on the far side.”

He told the court: “I made the decision that we were going to turn around and go to a pen on the right hand side of the ground.”

He added: “Everybody agreed that’s the route we should take.

“As we were going out, we were stuck to the wall on the left going out, and it was getting really intense coming in.

“There was a surge if you like, or people coming in, so the last verbal agreement we had, we’d go to the left and we’d go to pen one and two, because it was obviously not going to be as busy.”

The court also heard harrowing photographic evidence of Nicholas towards the front of pen four at around 3.05pm.

Richard Wood, who was a PC in 1989, told how he took Nicholas to receive first aid.

He said: “My major concern was, because of the area that we were in and the sort of mass of people and everything that was going off around us, I wanted to get him away from there, around to where I knew the first aid room was, in the gymnasium, and get him away to render assistance.”

Mr Wood added: “I became aware very, very suddenly, of a young man who identified himself as, I believe, an off-duty doctor, and he gave instruction to me as to how we should deal with assisting Nick and offering him the relevant care he required.

“He was indicating to me that the efforts were being unsuccessful and unfortunately Nick had passed away.”

Martin Huseyin, representing Nick’s family, thanked Mr Wood for his evidence and efforts on the day.

He said: “There is an additional thanks, because I think you took a great deal of trouble to talk to the family after these events, and in fact met on a number of occasions with Patricia Joynes, Nicholas’s mother, which she is very grateful for and appreciated very much.”