Boy, nine, was killed after hitting his head on a bench when school changing room locker he was climbing on toppled over, inquest hears
- Leo Latifi, nine, had gone to an after-school swimming club on May 23 last year
- He was in the changing room with a friend, also nine, when he climbed locker
- Locker unit collapsed and Leo hit his head on a bench, suffering severe injury
A nine-year-old boy was killed after hitting his head on a bench when the changing room locker he climbing on fell over, an inquest has heard.
Leo Latifi had gone to an after-school swimming club at Great Baddow High School in Chelmsford, Essex, on May 23 last year.
He was in the changing room with a friend of the same age while his father watched his younger brother swim, Tuesday’s hearing in Chelmsford heard.
The friend told police that Leo was climbing the locker unit when it fell over and Leo appeared to hit his head on a bench.
Emergency services were called but he died in hospital at 7.32pm, with his cause of death recorded as a severe head injury.
Leo Latifi, nine, suffered a severe head injury after falling while climbing a locker at school, an inquest has heard
The transcript of a police interview with Leo’s friend was read to the inquest by the coroner’s officer.
The boy said Leo was ‘climbing lockers and I was at the bottom of the lockers’, with just the two of them in the room.
‘He was at the top in the middle, we were like chatting and that then I felt it going back so I jumped off and went to the side of it,’ he said.
Leo ‘tried to put one foot down but he couldn’t, then his head hit the bench’, he said.
He said that ‘all the dads started charging in’ and Leo’s father asked Leo ‘what were you doing?’.
Asked whose idea it was to climb the lockers, he said: ‘Well Leo has climbed them before and he mentioned it and started going and I was at the bottom chatting.’
Asked if Leo got to the very top of the lockers, the boy said: ‘No, he was just putting his hands on the top.’
He said he did not think Leo had ever got to the top before, adding: ‘That’s the first time I’ve ever seen him climb the lockers.’
Asked if he was also climbing the lockers, he said: ‘Not really, I was just standing on the first one.’
Saffron Turnell, an inspector for the Health and Safety Executive, said the locker unit was 1.8 metres tall, 1.5 metres wide and around half a metre in depth.
He was in the changing room with a friend of the same age while his father watched his younger brother swim, Tuesday’s hearing in Chelmsford heard
It was three lockers high and five lockers wide and had a ‘couple of doors missing’, she said.
Mark Buxton, the school’s site manager, said the sports college including the changing rooms were refurbished in 2005-6 and new vinyl flooring was installed in the changing rooms in 2013-14.
Mr Buxton said he thought the flooring contractor ‘cut round the lockers so… he just left the lockers in place’ in 2013-14.
He said he did not recall any discussion about the lockers.
‘It wasn’t until after the incident that I saw the vinyl had been laid to the end of the wall and an indent of the locker base was visible,’ he said.
He said the lockers ‘looked to have integrity, they looked to be robust, I’ve never really had any cause to look at them for maintenance’.
Matthew Flynn, representing Leo’s family, asked Mr Buxton if fixtures on the lockers were inspected.
‘No, they were not checked,’ said Mr Buxton. ‘I didn’t know they had fixings.’
The inquest, which is being heard before a jury and is listed for four days, continues.
Leo was a Year 4 pupil at St Michael’s Primary School in Chelmsford. His headteacher Maria Rumsey said: ‘Leo was a sparkle in our school. His face lit up the classroom and his mischievous blue eyes made us all smile.
‘He was an avid scientist, who only on Wednesday (May 22, 2019) was in his element hunting for bugs on the school field.
‘Leo was always keen to share his model-building and wowed the class when he brought in the finished masterpieces!
‘He had a wide circle of friends in the year group, all of whom will miss him greatly.
‘We are supporting all of our children and staff today as we try to come to terms with this sad loss.
‘We are a strong and close community and will ensure that everybody is given the necessary help. In order to do this, we would ask that you respect the privacy of the family and school community at this time.’
Great Baddow High School, which is a specialist science and sports college, is described on its website as ‘a happy, safe and successful 11-18 school’.
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