‘Our Ben might still be alive if action was taken sooner’ – Ben Wragge’s grandfather speaks out as air gun review launches
The grandfather of popular Suffolk teenager Ben Wragge is welcoming a nationwide review into the regulation of air weapons – but said he wishes it had been carried out earlier.
Keen skateboarder and BMX biker Ben died on May 1, 2016 after being shot in the neck with a homemade air rifle.
The 13-year-old suffered the fatal injury while playing with a group of boys at a friend’s house in Thurston.
One of the boys he was with was holding the rifle when it fired without the trigger being pulled, an inquest heard.
Welcoming the review, Ben’s grandfather Peter Wragge said he feels his grandson might still be alive now if action had been taken sooner.
He added: “We have always believed and were told at the inquest that Ben’s death was avoidable. Had there been a review like this before things might be quite different.
“Our Ben might still be alive if action had been taken sooner.
“Nevertheless, we welcome this and hope it helps other families and stops them from going through what we have. That’s why we asked for this review.
“It’s given us hope that there have been reviews in Scotland and Northern Ireland which have resulted in air guns being licensed properly and not given to children under 18 years of age.
He said: “We’ve been told that two more people have died since Ben from air guns – something needs to be done to prevent this from ever happening again.
“We met with Nick Hurd who told us the review is going ahead and that did reassure us somewhat.
“We want to muster up as much support as we can from other families affected and from the community itself.
“Our MP has been really good about it, she’s met us and we know she is on board.”
Mrs Churchill said Ben’s death was a tragedy for all involved.
She added: “I have been providing support to Ben’s family and I think this review is very much needed.”
A Home Office spokesperson said: “Following the tragic death of Ben Wragge, the Minister for Policing and the Fire Service has personally met with his family and listened to their concerns as part of a review into the regulation of air weapons in England and Wales.
“We are assessing whether the current controls continue to be appropriate and effective. There are currently strict controls in place to limit the sale and use of air weapons, particularly in relation to young persons.”
Ben’s tragic death left the Thurston community in shock, with thousands taking to Twitter and Facebook to pay tribute.
Hundreds of flowers and messages of condolence were left at the Thurston Community College fence, where Ben was a Year 9 pupil.
At his inquest Suffolk coroner Dr Peter Dean recorded a conclusion of accidental death.