Sister of Bromsgrove man killed in Hillsborough tragedy attends new inquests

INQUESTS BEGIN: Louise Brookes, the sister of Andrew who lost his life in the Hillsborough tragedy, has travelled to Warrington for the new inquests. SP

INQUESTS BEGIN: Louise Brookes, the sister of Andrew who lost his life in the Hillsborough tragedy, has travelled to Warrington for the new inquests. SP

First published in Local

THE sister of Andrew Brookes, the Bromsgrove man who lost his life in the Hillsborough tragedy, says she is happy that the new inquests have begun.

Andrew was 26 when he was killed at the FA Cup semi-final staged at the Hillsborough Stadium, in Sheffield, in 1989.

The Hillsborough tragedy claimed 96 lives and is the worst stadium disaster in British history.

The fresh inquests were ordered in December 2012 when the High Court quashed the original accidental death verdicts.

In the opening days of the inquests, which began on Monday, (March 31), a jury of 11, seven women and four men along with a pool of extras, was selected and sworn in.

The jurors filled in questionnaires to decide their suitability to hear the case, and were asked in court to say if they supported Sheffield Wednesday, Nottingham Forest or Liverpool.

They were also given a list of witnesses to see if they knew any of them.

Relatives of those who died were emotional as they arrived at the much-fought-for hearing on the opening day.

Andrew's sister, Louise Brookes, made the journey from her Sidemoor home to the Warrington inquests.

"I am just really happy it is underway now," she told the Advertiser.

"It has taken 25 years to get here, it has been a long wait and I wanted to be here.

"We have been told it will take 12 months, but I expected that to be honest."

The site of the inquests, Birchwood Business Park, is a specially-fitted office block including seating for 286 members of the public and 92 advocates.

In the coming month a series of pen portraits - a statement about each of the victims - is being presented to the court.

Families have been invited to read out the statement and Ms Brookes is making the reading for her brother.

She said: "I wouldn't want anybody else doing the reading for Andrew - nobody knows my brother better than me."

In an opening statement, Coroner Lord Justice Goldring explained the tragedy was "the worst ever disaster at a British sports stadium.

He said the Hillsborough disaster is "seared into the memories of the very many people affected by it".

Against a backdrop of a reverent silence, relatives wept quietly as each name of the 96 victims was slowly read to the jury by counsel to the inquests, Christina Lambert QC.

Lord Goldring warned the jury not to research the disaster outside of the court room.

He told them: "There may be a great temptation for you to read articles which have been published or watch programmes which have taken place, or search for material about the disaster on internet or on social networking sites.

"My direction is simple, I repeat it, you must not.

"It is vitally important for any jury that their deliberations and conclusions are based only on the evidence which they hear."

During proceedings the jurors will hear evidence on stadium safety, crowd management and the response of the emergency services, and will make a site visit to the Hillsborough stadium.

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