WATCHING her son lying on the pitch unattended for several minutes with a jacket over his head was “like a kick in the teeth”, the chairwoman of the Hillsborough Family Support Group said.
A police officer told the inquests into the deaths of 96 Liverpool fans that he placed his tunic over 18-year-old James Aspinall “out of respect” because he thought he was dead.
Footage played to the jury showed the teenager on the pitch unattended as people stepped over him before fans rushed over and lifted him on to an advertising hoarding and carried him away.
Mr Aspinall was pronounced dead at 3.54pm in the temporary mortuary of the Sheffield Wednesday’s gymnasium by a doctor who was at the 1989 FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.
But he was not formally identified by his father, James Aspinall Senior - who watched the match from a different part of the ground - until the following day.
The court, sitting in Warrington, was told Mr Aspinall Senior had initially heard that all passengers on the bus that his son travelled to the game on had been accounted for.
The worried father checked though with hospitals in Sheffield whether James had been admitted but his name was not on any lists.
Reading his statement, Christina Lambert QC, counsel for the inquests, said: “They decided to drive back to Liverpool thinking and hoping that James may be on the bus.
“On their arrival home they went to the bus station with James’s mother Margaret and waited for all the buses to arrive.
“The last bus arrived but James was not on it.”
Speaking after today’s hearing into the final movements of James, from Huyton, Mrs Aspinall said: “I have not dealt with today very well to be honest with you.
“Today, to me, I felt for the first time that I had not felt for a long time that this was about James.
“I felt in the past how I have I dealt with it is to put James to one side and help with other families. But today I knew for the first time in 26 years I definitely had to concentrate on my own son and for me today ... it was like a kick in the teeth.
“When you see your son lying on a pitch with a coat over him for about three or four minutes and nobody done anything to help him ... we still don’t know whether he was alive or dead. And that I have got to live with for the rest of my life and I probably always will.
“But it’s just a relief to get James’s inquest over because it has been a hard, hard journey. The best way I can describe it is like climbing a mountain but I still have not reached the peak. And the peak is hopefully yet to come and maybe we will have peace.”
She added: “I want closure on Hillsborough and the only way we can get closure is by truth and justice, and hopefully we will get that.”