Cornwall

Hanged pupil's body 'not seen' in Pool Academy search

Dagmara Przybysz Image copyright Facebook
Image caption Dagmara Przybysz was pronounced dead on 17 May last year

The body of a Polish girl was not seen during a search for another pupil at a school in Cornwall, an inquest heard.

Dagmara Przybysz, 16, died at Pool Academy near Redruth in May last year.

School pastoral manager Marie Exelby opened the main door to the toilets where Dagmara was later found hanged, but "didn't see anything".

The inquest was also told that since Dagmara's death every pupil in the school has been given a search-enabled iPad that shows their location.

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The hearing at Truro's Coroner's Court heard Dagmara was being bullied and subjected to racist taunts including "stupid Pole" and "go back to your own country".

On 17 May 2016, after receiving a radio call to look for another pupil, pastoral manager Marie Exelby opened the door to the toilets where Dagmara was later found hanged but "didn't see anything" as she had not gone far enough in to see if all the cubicles were open or shut.

This search was just before 13:00 BST - about 45 minutes after Dagmara had gone in to the toilets and about 35 minutes before the alarm was raised about her.

Devon and Cornwall Police said CCTV footage from the school showed Dagmara's body was not found for more than 90 minutes, despite the manager checking the toilet block.

'All too late'

School co-ordinator Paula Hosking told the inquest Dagmara was found after two pupils raised the alarm about a student being in the toilet for a long time.

She said she could see shoes under the cubicle door, but there was no response when she asked if anyone was there.

When she looked over the cubicle door she saw Dagmara hanging and staff broke down the door.

A 999 call was made, but Ms Hosking, who did not make the call herself, said no CPR was attempted by school staff despite advice from the ambulance service.

"Paramedics asked us to carry out CPR while they were on their way," she said.

"We knew Dagmara had died and decided not to carry out CPR. We knew it was all too late."

Image caption Dagmara's parents Jedrzej and Ewelina Przybysz (front of picture) said their daughter had confided in them she was being bullied because of her nationality

Christopher Rogers from South Western Ambulance Service Trust said he met with the school and contacted Ofsted to find out the guidance currently in place.

As a result, he created a document entitled 'Ringing 999 for an ambulance: Guide for Education' which was sent to all Cornwall schools in September.

Assistant principal Lisette Neesham told the inquest that radios are no longer used by staff as all have mobile phones, and pupils have been issued with an iPad "with the student location search engaged".

Changes have also been made to the school's system of recording pupils absent from lessons and the procedure for looking for them.

Punched a wall

Dagmara, who lived with her parents and younger sister in Redruth after the family moved from Poland in 2009, had won a place at Truro College to study photography.

The inquest heard Dagmara had confided to both her parents, Jedrzej and Ewelina Przybysz, and boyfriend Lewis Simpson that she was being bullied because she was Polish.

However, the school's pastoral support worker Susan Kent said to the best of her knowledge Dagmara had "never mentioned any problems with racism to me or any other person at school".

She added Dagmara had felt under pressure from her parents to do well at school.

Zelma Hill, Pool Academy's principal, described Dagmara as a "beautiful, bright and creative" student who had a promising future ahead of her.

The day before her death, Dagmara injured her hand by punching a wall after becoming angry because some girls were laughing at her.

The inquest continues.

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