A former chief executive of Liverpool Football Club has told the Hillsborough trial that he could see pens at the stadium were “very packed” up to half an hour before kick-off.
Peter Robinson told jurors that when crushing became apparent at the ground’s Leppings Lane terrace some people in the directors’ box started “muttering about it being a pitch invasion”.
He continued: “But I could see it was not because they were not going onto the field, they were standing behind the goal.”
The disaster in Sheffield on 15 April 1989 claimed the lives of 96 Liverpool fans.
The police match commander on the day of the disaster, chief superintendent David Duckenfield, denies a charge of gross negligence manslaughter of 95 Liverpool fans.
Former Sheffield Wednesday secretary Graham Mackrell denies two charges of breaching safety laws.
Mr Robinson told the trial that he left the Hillsborough directors’ box to see what was happening and saw people lying motionless on the pitch and others being carried away on makeshift stretchers.
Mr Robinson said he was approached by Liverpool supporters.
He said: “They told us there had apparently been some announcement that Liverpool fans had forced a gate and they went out of their way to say ‘We did not force the gate'”.
Earlier, a former judge told the trial that he felt unsafe even before he got inside the stadium on the day of disaster.
Sir Maurice Kay told jurors that when he arrived at the ground as a football fan, problems were already developing.
He said: “I stood a little time there not moving forward at all. It was just jam-packed and I thought (it was) becoming dangerous.”
Sir Maurice described the situation as “chaotic” and told the court that when he eventually got onto the Leppings Lane terrace “there was a certain amount of involuntary movement by people getting a bit excited about the match”.
“The crowd was swaying and moving sideways and forwards in quite a dangerous way,” he said.
“I can remember police officers on the pitch calling to the crowd to move backwards and people shouting out ‘We can’t, we can’t'”.
Later families of those who died wept in the public gallery as Liverpool supporter Christopher Parsonage relived his experience of being crushed on the Leppings Lane terrace.
He told Preston Crown Court: “I hit a crash barrier. My right leg hit it…It was incredible agony. I could not move. I could not twist. My leg was absolutely trapped…The pressure was so, so hard… I had consciously decided to control my breathing…You could not move your rib cage.”
Mr Parsonage climbed up in the witness box to show how his leg was trapped and to demonstrate how far off the floor he had been lifted by the pressure of the crowd.
He told jurors he had tried to lift up another trapped fan whose face had turned blue. He said he was unable to stop the man from falling to the floor.
The trial continues.
(c) Sky News 2019: Stadium pens ‘very packed’ before Hillsborough disaster