London

Fairground death inquest: Toddler slipped through fence

Erjon Hyseni
Image caption Erjon Hyseni, 2, died after being hit by a fairground ride at Ducketts Common

A toddler was hit and killed by a rollercoaster after apparently slipping through a gap in a fence, an inquest has ruled.

Two-year-old Erjon Hyseni died after making his way into the path of the Go-Gator ride at a fair at Ducketts Common, Wood Green, on 12 May 2009.

Before the incident he had been playing on a bouncy castle where his father was watching him.

A narrative verdict was delivered at North London Coroner's Court.

The foreman of a jury at the inquest said: "His father was outside the gate moving broadly in line with Erjon's position.

"Erjon was seen by a witness moving to the side adjacent to the Go-Gator ride. The same witness saw Erjon standing by the barrier facing the Go-Gator ride.

"Within a matter of seconds he was seen on the other side about to climb on to the low section of the Go-Gator track.

"On the balance of probability there was a gap between two unconnected panels (in the fence) through which Erjon accessed the Go-Gator.

Safety fences

"Having climbed on to the track he was struck by the front of the Go-Gator train and fell under the train.

"As a result he received a fatal head injury and other impact wounds."

Erjon, from Haringey, north London, was taken to the Royal London Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

His mother, Migena Kociu, sobbed as she listened to the verdict on Tuesday.

Coroner Andrew Walker said he would be making a request to the Health and Safety Executive that the minimum gap between all safety fences and the ground be reduced from 150mm to 100mm (15cm to 10cm).

He said he would also be requesting notices be placed on fences at the fair saying parents may accompany their children into the area around the bouncy castle to supervise them and that these notices must be placed on any ride where parents are supervising their children.

Speaking of Erjon's family, the coroner added: "I know there is nothing I will be able to say that will make this any easier to bear but they have my sympathy nonetheless."

'Delay intolerable'

In a statement on behalf of the boy's parents - Lulzim Hyseni and Migena Kociu - Matthew Clayton, from Fentons Solicitors LLP, said their greiving had been "compounded by the protracted disputes" related to the death.

The parents said the "delay" between the fatal incident and the inquest was "intolerable".

Mr Clayton said: "Added to this has been the unfortunate pain caused by the destruction of Erjon's clothing, which the family repeatedly requested be returned to them.

"Further, crucial evidence was also destroyed by police without the authority of the supervising officer", he said.

The family hoped that the fairground operators would "finally concede liability for the purposes of any future civil claim".

Speaking after the inquest, a spokesman for Joseph Manning, who owns the fair where the incident happened, said he believed the little boy had slipped under the fence, rather than through a gap.

He said: "We heard from three expert witnesses that the measurements provided by the HSE of a 150mm gap can be breached by a child and we are pleased the coroner recommended the size of the gap be reduced.

"We also welcome his suggestion of signs encouraging parents to enter and supervise their children.

"It has been a terrible tragedy for Erjon's family and a great shock for everyone in our industry and we want to make sure it never happens again."

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