Glasgow & West Scotland

Cemetery tragedy: Anger and pain lingers for Ciaran Williamson's family

Ciaran Williamson

The family of an eight-year-old boy who died after a headstone fell on him at a Glasgow cemetery have spoken of their anger and pain at his loss.

Ciaran Williamson was playing with friends in Craigton Cemetery when the tragedy happened on 26 May 2015.

An inquiry into his death has heard its final submissions.

His mother Stephanie Griffin and stepfather Thomas McGee have spoken to BBC Scotland about the day Ciaran died, and their devastation at his death.

They believe his death might have been prevented if safety checks had been carried out.

However, that is disputed by Glasgow City Council, which said it was speculation that such tests would have averted the tragedy.

The council said it had done everything it could to assist the court, and that it would be "inappropriate" to comment further while the inquiry was ongoing.

Sheriff Linda Ruxton, who heard the fatal accident inquiry at Glasgow Sheriff Court, will deliver her findings at a later date.

'I need to know what happened'

The inquiry heard that following Ciaran's death, Glasgow City Council carried out a safety assessment at the cemetery and laid flat between 500 and 900 headstones over concerns they were unsafe.

Ciaran's family said they hoped other children would be warned off playing in unsafe locations.

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Media captionCiaran's mother recalls the day her "lovely wee boy" died

His mother Stephanie said: "Every day I feel angrier. I feel I need to know what happened."

She hoped that other parents would become more aware of what was around them.

"Maybe it's a graveyard - or an old factory. Maybe just try to speak to their children," she said.

"If they see something that needs repaired, to report it."

At the time of the tragedy, the family lived next to the cemetery.

Stephanie said she had warned Ciaran about the dangers two days before the tragedy.

"We tried to speak to him and he said 'right mum, I promise you I won't go in'," she said.

Two evenings later Ciaran joined other boys in the cemetery.

'Please, just get up'

He had only been gone for 10 minutes when another boy knocked on the family's door to say he had been injured.

Ciaran's stepfather Thomas hurried to the scene, followed shortly afterwards by Stephanie.

"I remember saying to Thomas 'what's happened to him, what's happened to him?'

Stephanie recalled that she saw Ciaran on the ground with a headstone or tombstone next to him.

She said "Thomas said to me 'Stephanie, that was on him. I've had to take that off him. It's fell on him'.

"And I was screaming and I was shouting. I was slapping his face and saying: 'Ciaran, Ciaran, come on, please, just get up'."

Thomas then called the ambulance service and they talked him through administering CPR.

He recalled: "It must have only been five minutes, but it felt to me like it was an hour. And I'll never forget it."

'It hits me, all over again'

Stephanie said the family was still adjusting to life after Ciaran's death, and that some days it was difficult to get out of bed.

"It just hits me, all over again, that he's not here anymore," she said.

"And then I need to get up for the other kids. Otherwise, I don't think I would. If I'm honest, I don't."

Stephanie said the tragedy had badly affected Ciaran's elder sister.

"Even now at night she'll still cry for him. She says 'mum, I miss Ciaran' - and I say 'I know, mum misses him too. We all miss him'."

In the family's living room, words stencilled on the wall are a daily reminder of the loss and suffering they continue to endure amid the lasting memories of a special little boy.

Those words read: "Because someone we love is in heaven, there's a little bit of heaven in our home."

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