The son of the oldest fan killed in the 1989 Hillsborough football stadium disaster has told an inquest jury how he and his father battled desperately for their lives after witnessing “hell before our eyes”.
Gerard Baron Jr recalled how he tried to reassure 67-year-old war veteran Gerard Baron Sr as they were caught in the crush that killed 96 Liverpool supporters.
In a tribute to Mr Baron Sr, who lived in Preston, his son told how they travelled together to the 1989 FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.
In evidence to fresh inquests into the events at Hillsborough on April 15, 1989, Mr Baron said: “What transpired that day changed my life forever.
“Neither of us envisaged witnessing hell before our eyes, nor did we expect to be fighting so desperately for our lives, as were so many others.
“The very last words I said to my father were, `You will be okay’. How wrong I was.”
Mr Baron had flown to the UK from his home in South Australia to give evidence to the inquest court in Warrington, Cheshire.
In his evidence he described Mr Baron Sr, a retired postal inspector, as a doting father to seven children, a supportive husband, a loving grandparent and a dear friend to many.
Mr Baron added that his father – whose brother played for Liverpool in the 1950 FA Cup Final – had a phenomenal football knowledge and was a “sportsman, serviceman and worthy citizen”.
Nine other family members read tributes to their loved ones during the sixth day of the fresh inquests, including Sara Williams, whose late mother Anne Williams played a leading role in the campaign for the original inquest verdicts to be quashed.
The campaigner, whose 15-year-old son Kevin was among Hillsborough’s victims, died from bowel cancer in April last year.
“I make this statement on behalf of all our family and friends, who all loved Kevin, but in particular for my mum Anne, who would have loved to have been standing here telling you all about Kevin and his cheeky ways,” her daughter told the inquest jury of seven women and four men.
Ms Williams said Kevin, from Formby, Merseyside, was “mad about football, but crazy about Liverpool Football Club”.
Her voice breaking with emotion, she told the inquest: “Kev was really close to mum – it would be absolutely no surprise to me if the word `mum’ was his last.
“My mum fought hard over the years to get the truth uncovered about what happened at Hillsborough.
“It is only now that I have children of my own that I understand the relentless determination that came so naturally to her, because of the love that she had for Kevin.”