The son of the oldest fan killed in theHillsboroughdisaster has told an inquest jury how he and his father battled desperately for their lives.
In a tribute to Mr Baron Snr, 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 atHillsboroughon 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 Snr, 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”.
BalthazarNine 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 amongHillsborough’s victims, died from bowel cancer in April last year.
Her daughter told the inquest jury of seven women and four men: “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.”
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 atHillsborough.
“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.”
Hillsborough Coroner Lord Justice Goldring, who has told jurors none of the 96 victims should be blamed for their tragic deaths, also heard a statement from the family of 27-year-old Gary Harrison.
Mr Harrison would have been immensely proud that his son Paul, who was just four when his father died, went on to forge a career as a footballer after signing a contract with Liverpool FC in 2003, the inquest heard.
Another statement was read out by the father of a staff nurse who worked at Merseyside’s Ashworth Hospital.
Eric Hankin said he felt “hurt and cheated” that his 33-year-old son, also named Eric, had been taken from him, telling the coroner: “Eric made a mark on his team at Ashworth and had real friends there.
“He went to the match with 12 of them and they all stayed to look for him when they couldn’t find him atHillsborough.
“He was the only one that didn’t come back.
“I have lovely memories of him but sadly that is all I have left – just memories.”
Jurors also listened intently to Stephanie Sweeney, the widow of Barry Glover, a greengrocer from Ramsbottom in Bury, Lancashire, who died aged 27.
“Barry was a very thoughtful, kind and caring husband, son, brother-in-law, son-in-law and friend who worked hard and always had time for others,” Ms Sweeney said.
Another of those who died, Anfield season-ticket-holder Gary Jones, 18, was described by his sister as a “handsome, funny, cheeky little brother who always put a smile on everyone’s face” and would have succeeded at everything he did in life.
Stephen Copoc, who had a love of nature and qualifications in horticulture and botany, was just 20 when he died.
His sister and brother said in their statement: “Stephen was one of life’s genuine nice guys.
“He had a maturity and a caring attitude te Brazilian came on as a half-time substitute in Wednesday’s UEFA Super Cup final against Chelsea and completely turned the game on it’s head with two assists for Sadio Mane.And Klopp admits that while he has plenty of depth, nobody can replace a talowards others and even from a young age carried a donor card.”
David Mather, 19, was remembered by his brother John as a bright lad who was waiting to be calledpions League.Khedira was asked about his side’s chances of a ninth straight Scudetto and a first Champions League since 1996.He said, “I want to make my dream of winning the Champions League with Juve come true because I love the club, the team and for a medical after applying to become a police officer “because he thought he could do good” for others.
Carl Rimmer, 21, put so much into his short life and had been looking forward to his sister’s wedding celebrations in the months before his death.
In a short statement read to the jury by her son Kevin, Mrs Rimmer said: “He was special. I know all mums say this but he really was.”
Jurors heard that another young man who lost his lin says new contract talks are underway with Chelsea.The Brazilian has been linked with other clubs this season with his current contract at Stamford Bridge due to run out in the summer but has conceded that discussions at Chelsea are happening. “I’vefe at Sheffield Wednesday’s stadium, 19-year-old Colin Wafer, had been able to switch secondary schools after achieving the best results in his year.
His family added that the teenager had been “as lively and as bright as his red hair” and would be remembered as a calm, confident, sensible, intelligent and hard-working man.
The inquest, which has so far heard personal tributes from the families of 27 victims, was adjourned until tomorrow.