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One of 96 described as full of fun

One of 96 people who died in the Hillsborough disaster has been described as full of fun and a man who lived for his family at the inquests into the deaths.

A statement from Susan Horrocks, the wife of 41-year-old Arthur Horrocks, was read to the silent, packed courtroom by their son, Jon, today.

Mrs Horrocks said in the statement: "This has been the hardest thing I have ever had to write.

"But I hope it goes some way towards saying what a wonderful husband and best friend he was to me as well as a devoted a much-loved dad, brother, uncle and friend and how much we all miss him every day."

"Arthur was full of fun and nothing was too much trouble for him," the statement continued. "Arthur worshipped our sons."

The emotional statement was the first of a series of short biographies about their loved ones being read by the families of all those who died.

Details about nine of those who died are due to be heard at the court in Warrington, Cheshire, today with photographs chosen by their families also shown to the jury of seven women and four men.

The process of presenting the so-called pen portraits is due to take until the end of the month, with the inquest not sitting during the week of the 25th anniversary of the catastrophic events.

Yesterday jurors were told that none of the 96 victims should be blamed for their tragic deaths, which bereaved relatives welcomed as "music to our ears".

Lord Justice Goldring laid out key questions facing jurors in the fresh inquests into how the fans died, including how other supporters behaved.

Britain's worst sporting disaster unfolded when hundreds of fans were crushed at the FA Cup semi-final between Nottingham Forest and Liverpool on April 15, 1989.

The coroner has outlined the series of inquiries that have already taken place into the disaster, including the previous inquests where the coroner took the "highly controversial" decision that those who died were beyond help after 3.15pm.

More recently, the Hillsborough Independent Panel was set up and issued a final report in 2012, but the jury was told that its findings are not evidence in the inquest.

Kathleen Thompson, widow of Patrick Thompson, had to stop a number of times to compose herself and wipe away tears as she read her statement flanked by some of her five children.

After outlining the life of British Rail guard Mr Thompson, who was 35, she said to the jury: "Please listen to the evidence and let my children know that their dad was not a hooligan but a hard-working family man who just happened to love football."

Mrs Thompson said that what "hurts the most" is that the youngest of her children have grown up with few memories of their father.

Wilf Whelan also told the jury his son Ian, who was 19 when he died at the stadium, was not a hooligan.

He said: "He wasn't a football hooligan.

"He even attended Mass of his own free will every Sunday without fail.

"My family feel that they have had to defend his good name for the last 25 years.

"We would like to thank the coroner for this opportunity to do so again."

Mr Whelan remembered how his son was nicknamed "Ronnie" - after his hero, the Liverpool player Ronnie Whelan.

And he explained how, on the day of the 1989 semi-final, he left two red roses at his girlfriend Joanne's door on his way to the match.

Mr Whelan said: "He just left them outside as a surprise for her.

"That's just one example of his good character."

In the fourth statement, Shirley Riley remembered her younger brother Roy Pemberton, who was 23 when he died at Hillsborough.

Standing in the witness box with her sister Gillian, she said: "Now we are left thinking about Roy and what he would have achieved - a successful career, a family and many more dreams.

"We will never know and we are getting older and he will not.

"Our parents were left devastated and never truly got over the loss.

"They longed to spoil their boy but it was taken from them.

"Gillian and I are only left with memories of our baby brother but we love him and he will always live on."

Walter Smith, in a statement read by a lawyer, remembered his sister Paula Ann Smith, who was 26 when she died.

He said: "Paula was quiet and shy by nature and happiest in her bedroom at home.

"She liked to listen to the Osmonds and enjoyed watching comedies."

She said her hero was Kenny Dalglish and her bedroom was full of Liverpool FC memorabilia.

Mr Smith said his sister was extremely close to her mother.

He said: "My mother never got over Paula's death. She was heartbroken, as was my father.

"I miss my baby sister Paula. We shared so many happy memories."


From Belfast Telegraph