Wales

Scouts 'putting lives at risk' after Ben Leonard's death

Ben Leonard Image copyright North Wales Police
Image caption Ben Leonard, 16, died on 26 August 2018

The Scout Association is "putting lives of young people at risk" following the death of a 16-year-old boy on a trip to north Wales, a report has said.

Ben Leonard, from Stockport, Greater Manchester, died after falling from the Great Orme, Conwy, in August 2018.

In a prevention of future deaths report, coroner David Pojur said none of the scout leaders on the trip knew where Ben was when he fell and died.

The Scout Association said it had since strengthened its policies.

In his report, Mr Pojur, assistant coroner for North Wales East and Central, said: "The lives of young people are being put at risk by the Scout Association's failure to recognise the inadequacies of their operational practice and the part this has played in the death of Ben."

Image caption Ben was walking on the Great Orme when he fell to his death

He added that the Reddish Explorer Scouts trip did not adhere to the Scout Association's own policies.

The coroner said there was no list of participants on the trip, no risk assessment had been carried out and there was no full understanding of what a risk assessment was.

He added that each of the three leaders on the trip - Sean Glaister, Gareth Williams and Mary Carr - assumed Ben and his friends were with another leader when the incident happened.

'Terrible event'

The inquest jury at Ruthin County Court was discharged on Friday after new evidence was revealed.

Mr Pojur was critical that the Scout Association failed to tell the inquest that the leaders had been placed on restricted duties after the death.

He told the jury they had been "misled" by not being presented with the information about the leaders.

Ben had camped at Betws-y-Coed the night before his death and the group had been due to climb Snowdon, but went to Llandudno instead because of the weather conditions.

A statement from the Scout Association said: "We were truly saddened by Ben's tragic death. This was a terrible event, and our deepest sympathies go out to his family and friends.

"We take this matter very seriously. We will be carefully considering the coroner's concerns and will respond in detail.

"The safety of young people is our number one priority. Following this tragic event, we have strengthened our policies and procedures to ensure young people can enjoy activities safely."

'Wonderful boy'

His mother, Jackie Leonard, told the inquest the teenager had received his GCSE results three days before his death and had enrolled to study film and television at a college in Media City, Salford.

She said: "He was a wonderful boy and a fantastic son and brother."

A second inquest, where the chief executive of the Scout Association is expected be called to give evidence, is due to take place on 13 July.