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  • 3 April 2014, 14:24

Hillsborough: Tears As Pen Portraits Read Out

There have been emotional scenes at the Hillsborough inquests as relatives presented personality profiles of those who died.

Families cried as the first of 96 "pen portraits" were read out to a silent courtroom as stills of the victims were displayed on screens.

Court ushers passed around tissues as family members comforted each other with hugs and the jury took a break between each presentation.

The first of the relatives to be called was Jon Horrocks, who read a statement on behalf of his mother.

Writing about Arthur, the husband she lost in the Hillsborough disaster, she said:  "This has been the hardest thing to write but I hope it goes some way towards saying what a wonderful husband and best fried he was."

Wilf Whelan spoke about his 19-year-old son Ian.  "He was not a hooligan," he said.  "My family feels as though they have had to defend his good name for the past 25 years."

Shirley Riley cried as she spoke about younger brother Roy Pemberton who died aged 23. She described how she and her sister used to "mother him with all our love".

She said: "Now we are left thinking about him and what he would have achieved - a successful career, a family and many more dreams. 

"We will never know. We are getting older and he will not. Our parents were left devastated and never truly got over their loss. They longed to spoil their boy but it was all taken from them."

The background statements were full of personal detail about the people who died in the tragedy. One relative described how his son would lay red roses on his girlfriend's doorstep. Another talked of the day his wife took home a fledgling bird she had come across. 

One mother described how her daughter played the role of a Christmas tree in a school nativity play.

Thirty-five-year-old Patrick Thompson was described by his widow Kathleen. She made a direct appeal to the jury saying: "Please listen to the evidence and let my children know that their father was not a hooligan but a hardworking family man."

She said her greatest sadness was that her children had only limited memories of their father.

Christine McEvoy had to be supported by a friend as she remembered her daughter Marion Hazel who died aged 21. She said she wished she could have had treated her daughter more.

The 96 victims were killed after being crushed against barriers at the Hillsborough stadium in Sheffield in 1989 on the day of the FA Cup semi-final match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.

The inquests, which are set to last up to a year, were ordered in December 2012 after verdicts of accidental death from a previous hearing were quashed by the High Court in London.

Jurors were formally sworn in before coroner Lord Justice Goldring earlier this week.

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