Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Liberton High wall death inquiry begins

Keane Bennett Image copyright Other
Image caption Keane Wallis-Bennett was fatally injured in the changing rooms at Liberton High School

A fatal accident inquiry into the death of a 12-year-old girl who died when a school wall collapsed has begun in Edinburgh.

Keane Wallis-Bennett died in April 2014 when a modesty wall in the PE changing room at Liberton High School fell on top of her.

A police investigation found no-one would face criminal charges.

However, it was decided an inquiry would be held to establish the full circumstances surrounding the incident.

In her opening remarks, Sheriff Principal Mhairi Stephen said the two-week inquiry would focus on why the wall collapsed, why it collapsed when it did and the property maintenance regime at the school.

'Should be safe'

She said the hearing came at a time of particular poignancy as many of Keane's classmates had recently been taking exams and were preparing to make their way in life.

Sheriff Principal Stephen added: "The whole community was totally shocked by Keane's death. A young woman who attended school on 1 April, 2014, and did not return to her family.

"School should be a safe place for people."

The inquiry heard that pupils had leaned on the wall while changing their shoes when it it collapsed on top of Keane.

In evidence read out to the court, one described fellow pupils' efforts to lift the wall but said it was too heavy.

Another witness, Det Ch Insp Keith Hardie, was asked if on 1 April - the day of the incident - he could answer why the wall fell.

He replied: "No."

'Grinding noise'

In a statement, one girl told how PE teacher Nicole Christie must have heard the bang as the wall fell and told them to leave.

The teacher then went over to Keane and told her: "It's alright. The ambulance is coming."

Other girls told of pupils pushing or shoving against the wall and one girl said the wall moved forwards or backwards before returning to its original position.

Another told of a "scraping or grinding noise" and how she looked down and saw "a bit of a gap" about a centimetre wide at the bottom.

Another pupil said a girl would put her back against the shower wall and her feet on the modesty wall and try to walk up it, while another tried to climb up the wall two or three times. But she stopped when she saw the wall move as she had "got a fright"and never did it again.

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