KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —- Andrew Devine has been declared the 97th victim of the Hillsborough disaster – and scandal – through a coroner’s ruling after his death at the age of 55.
Devine, from Mossley Hill, was 22 when he attended the notorious FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at the Sheffield Wednesday ground on April 15, 1989.
He had not been expected to survive the day after his chest was crushed and his brain deprived of oxygen in the lethal crush which saw 96 fellow Liverpool fans unlawfully killed in Britain’s worst sporting disaster.
His parents were warned he would be unlikely to survive for six months let alone his eventual 32 years during which he was unable to speak, confined to a wheelchair and able to eat only puréed food.
A family statement said: “It is with great sadness and a sense of immense loss that we can confirm that Andrew Devine passed away yesterday at the premature age of 55 .
“Our collective devastation is overwhelming but so too is the realisation that we were blessed to have had Andrew with us for 32 years since the Hillsborough tragedy.
“We welcome the conclusion of the coroner, Mr Andre Rebello, made today at Liverpool Coroner’s Court, that Andrew was unlawfully killed, making him the 97th fatality of the tragic events that occurred on April 15, 1989.
“In the intervening years, Andrew has been a much loved son, brother and uncle. He has been supported by his family and a team of dedicated carers, all of whom devoted themselves to him.
“As ever, our thoughts are with all of those affected by Hillsborough. We would ask that our privacy is respected at this sad time.”
A Liverpool statement said: “Liverpool Football Club is deeply saddened by the passing of Andrew Devine, who died yesterday at the age of 55.
“A lifelong Liverpool supporter, Andrew continued to attend matches at Anfield when possible despite suffering life-changing injuries at Hillsborough on April 15, 1989. In doing so he defied expectations that he would not survive for six months after the tragedy.
“At an inquest held in Liverpool today, it was ruled that Andrew was unlawfully killed as a result of the disaster, providing a further tragic reminder of the toll that Hillsborough continues to take on all affected by it.
“The thoughts of everyone at the club are with Andrew’s family and his carers.”
In June the South Yorkshire and West Midlands police forces agreed to pay damages to more than 600 people over the cover-up which followed the disaster.
Nobody has ever been convicted over police actions following the disaster.