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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 August, 2003, 10:30 GMT 11:30 UK
Trampled fan's death 'accidental'
Terry Coles
Terry Coles was approaching the ground when he was fatally injured
The jury at the inquest into the death of Swansea football fan Terry Coles has returned a verdict of accidental death.

Swansea City supporter Terry Coles, 42, died of abdominal wounds after trouble broke out before opposing fans before a league match at Rotherham United's Millmoor ground in May 2000.

After the nine-day hearing at Doncaster Magistrates Court, a statement read by Mr Coles' widow Christine said she was going to take civil action against the police.

While she said he was pleased there had finally been a public inquiry into her husband's death, she added: "Despite what has been said and written about his alcohol consumption on the day Terry was no football hooligan," she said.

"His two children have been deprived of a father at a young age and I intend to continue with a civil action against South Yorkshire Police which has already commenced."

On Tuesday, a mounted police officer carrying out crowd control told the inquest that the collision with Mr Coles was unavoidable after the fan walked into the horse's path.

police horses generic
Police horses were used in crowd control

After debate about how much Mr Coles had had to drink during the journey to south Yorkshire, friends of his told how they had been drinking before the game and that Mr Coles had probably drunk seven pints.

Post mortem examination tests showed Mr Coles was four times over the drink-drive limit at the time of his death.

And it was after having had a drink with a group of supporters he had travelled to Yorkshire with, that Mr Coles got caught up in trouble outside the ground.

Police officers - who told the hearing that Mr Coles appeared to have "walked into the path of the police horse" - said he was seen on CCTV footage throwing objects into the stadium.

But Keith Hill, a friend of Mr Coles, said in a statement read out in court that he would have "run the other way" to avoid any trouble.

Another Swansea fan Alan Roberts told how they were spat at and were the target of missiles hurled by opposing fans which led to retaliatory stone-throwing outside Rotherham's Millmoor ground.

"It was totally out of control and lots of people didn't want to get involved," he said.

floral tributes
Hundreds of fans turned up at Mr Coles' funeral

Soon after he was to witness Mr Coles being trampled by the police horse.

"There was no way it was going to stop in time," he said then describing how it hit with a "terrific force", knocking Mr Coles off his feet.

On Tuesday, retired Pc David Lindsay told the inquest he was trying to prevent Swansea fans throwing stones into the football ground at the time his horse collided with Mr Coles from Morriston in Swansea.

Rejecting the opinion of one witness that he was not in control of his horse at the time, he recalled how other football fans had got out of his horse's way when he rode in a steady canter along the lane next to the ground to the ground.

But, he said, Mr Coles, a drayman for Bass breweries, had moved in front of this path and bent down.

Mr Lindsay maintained he could not have stopped his horse, called Fulwood, without "causing mayhem".

"My intention was to save an awful lot of injury to people in and around the ground," he said.

"I still believe to this day that it was the right thing to do."




SEE ALSO:
Trampled fan inquest - jury out
20 Aug 03  |  Wales
Trampled fan 'unavoidable'
19 Aug 03  |  Wales
Trampled fan 'avoided trouble'
13 Aug 03  |  Wales
Trampled fan threw missiles into stadium
12 Aug 03  |  South Yorkshire
Trampled fan 'had lot to drink'
11 Aug 03  |  South Yorkshire
Police horse 'not in control'
14 Aug 03  |  Wales
Mounted Pc's distress at death
21 Aug 03  |  Wales
Fans recall fatal horse clash
15 Aug 03  |  Wales



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