Suffolk

Ben Wragge's air rifle death accidental

Ben Wragge Image copyright Family Photo
Image caption Ben Wragge died after he was injured by an airgun pellet

A schoolboy was killed by an air rifle after it was accidentally discharged by his friend, an inquest heard.

Ben Wragge, 13, was fatally wounded in Thurston, Suffolk, on 1 May 2016.

An inquest into his death was told he was hit in the neck by the gun which had no safety catch, was fitted with a silencer and could fire without the trigger being pulled.

The court heard Ben's friend "did not think he fired the weapon". The coroner recorded a verdict of accidental death.

Ben was fatally struck while playing with a group of boys at a friend's house. They had been to the Thurston spring fair before cycling to the house to see the progress of a shed being built as a "boy cave".

One of his friends had been holding the weapon and focusing on trees at the time of the accident, Det Insp Kevin Hayward, of Suffolk Police, said.

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Image caption The air rifle belonged to the father of one of Ben's friends, the inquest heard

"He then swung around to hand the weapon over, then felt a shake," Det Insp Hayward said.

"He did not think the weapon was loaded and he did not think he fired the weapon.

"He heard Ben shout 'ow'. He did not think anything had happened until he saw blood."

The inquest heard Ben's friends raised the alarm and told his mother, who tried to revive him by performing CPR. He later died at West Suffolk Hospital.

The air rifle belonged to the father of one of the friends, the court was told.

Tragic

It was a .22 air rifle which had a telescopic sight and silencer, could be loaded with up to nine pellets without them being visible, had no safety catch and could discharge without the trigger being pulled.

Ben's family told Suffolk senior coroner Dr Peter Dean they want to prevent anyone suffering such a devastating loss and called for laws on gun use to be tightened.

"Following the tragic death of Ben, we very strongly feel that had the law on the licensing, registration and storage of airguns been amended in the past, Ben's death could have been prevented," relative Zoe Wragge said.

Recording a conclusion of accidental death at the inquest in Ipswich, Dr Dean asked that the Home Office review the individual circumstances and the legislation around the use of airguns.

Two teenage boys were initially arrested on suspicion of manslaughter before being told they faced no further action in July 2016.

Air gun safety

Image copyright Thinkstock
  • It is an offence for a person in possession of an air weapon to fail to take reasonable precautions to prevent a person under the age of 18 from gaining unauthorised access to it
  • The Home Office recommends storing air weapons in suitably robust lockable cupboards or using security cord to anchor it to a building (keeping keys separate)

Source: Home Office

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