Boy, 9, died after falling from lockers at high school, inquest hears

Great Baddow High School Picture: GOOGLE MAPS

Great Baddow High School Picture: GOOGLE MAPS - Credit: Archant

A boy died after a locker unit which he was climbing on fell over, an inquest has heard.

Leo Latifi, aged nine, had gone to an after-school swimming club at Great Baddow High School in Chelmsford, Essex, on May 23 last year.

An inquest into his death, which took place at Essex Crown Court in Chelmsford heard that he was in the changing room with a friend of the same age while his father watched his younger brother swim.

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.

You may also want to watch:

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.

Most Read

“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.”

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.

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.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter