A LIVERPOOL supporter has told a court how he pulled fans from a "human cascade" on the terrace at Hillsborough.

Giving evidence at the trial of match commander David Duckenfield and former Sheffield Wednesday club secretary Graham Mackrell, Frederick Eccleston said he attended the FA Cup semi-final on April 15 1989 with his son and a family friend.

He told Preston Crown Court he had been standing on the north-west terrace when he noticed the central pens of the Leppings Lane terrace were "ram-packed full of people" whereas the pens to the side were "half-empty".

Mr Eccleston, who was a senior nursing manager for Wirral health authority, said that when the match was stopped he went on to the pitch to help and joined a police officer pulling fans from the central pens.

He said: "We both were pulling people out of that human cascade, it was like a waterfall with people tumbling on each other.

"I can remember pulling people by their arms, their legs, their hair, their cheeks."

The court heard Mr Eccleston helped to give medical treatment to injured fans both on the pitch and later in the gymnasium.

He said he left the ground at about 4.45pm and realised he "must have witnessed the longest football match in the world".

He told the court he had attended the stadium for the 1988 semi-final, but on that occasion the tunnel to the central pens had been blocked off.

He said: "There were a number of police officers and stewards standing together, they said 'no, this is full, these pens are full, you can't come down here', those were more or less their words."

The court also heard from former police constable Fiona Nicol, who was stationed on the perimeter track in front of the Leppings Lane terrace.

Asked for her impression of Duckenfield, she said: "I did believe him to be what he said went and if he told us what was going to happen and that's how he wanted it to go, that's the way we were supposed to do it."

She told the court the then chief superintendent had visited her and colleagues at Hammerton Road police station after taking up his post, just weeks before the disaster.

She said: "He basically told us he was here to sort it out and make us toe the line because of things that had happened at Hammerton Road in the past."

The court heard that officers stationed in front of the terrace were told no one was allowed access to the pitch perimeter track from the pens without consent of a senior officer, except to receive medical aid.

But Ms Nicol said she opened the gate to pen three to allow fans to leave and enter a side pen after a man who was at the match with a group of boy scouts asked if they could move.

She said: "I was frightened about opening the gate because I knew I wasn't meant to but I also could see these children were clearly upset and I thought I could walk with them back down to pen one and it wouldn't cause too much of a problem."

The court heard that as the disaster unfolded she gave medical help to a number of fans on the pitch.

Duckenfield, 74, denies the gross negligence manslaughter of 95 Liverpool fans who died in the crush on the Leppings Lane terrace.

Under the law at the time, there can be no prosecution for the 96th victim, Tony Bland, as he died more than a year and a day after the disaster.

Twelve of those who lost their lives in the disaster were from Wirral and Ellesmere Port.

Mackrell, 69, denies breaching a condition of the ground's safety certificate and failing to discharge a duty under the Health and Safety Act.