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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Sam Russell

Essex boy, 12, died after wall collapsed on him as he helped his dad, inquest told

A 12-year-old boy who was helping his father to knock down a garage wall at their home died after it collapsed on both of them, an inquest heard.

Scott-Swaley Stevens’ mother, Charmaine Lee, went to the fire station next door, shouting “help, my baby is trapped”, Wednesday’s hearing in Chelmsford was told.

Scott-Swaley died at the scene in St John’s Road, Clacton-on-Sea, Essex on October 21 last year while his father, Scott Stevens, was freed having sustained a suspected broken arm.

Essex senior coroner, Lincoln Brookes, concluded that Scott-Swaley’s death was an “extraordinarily tragic accident”.

He was a 12-year-old boy with his whole life ahead of him

Lincoln Brookes, coroner

Mr Stevens told police, in a statement read by the coroner: “The wall fell onto us both after we had rocked it to push it over.

“I didn’t use any tools to complete this.

“It fell onto us within seconds which I couldn’t stop.”

He said he believed they were “trapped under the wall for the next two hours but no-one could hear us”, but Ms Lee told the inquest she believed they had been outside for about five minutes.

The coroner said that he suspected the amount of time was “much less” than Mr Stevens believed, noting he was “in a great deal of pain and a great deal of distress” after the wall collapsed.

Firefighter Simon Tarrant said, in a statement read by the coroner, that Ms Lee shouted for help at the fire station, that was next door to their home.

He said when firefighters went out people were “frantically trying to move the rubble”.

Detective Inspector James Hardingham said police were called by the fire service at 6.56pm and Scott-Swaley was pronounced dead at the scene.

He said both the rear and front of the lean-to garage had already been removed, “leaving one external wall standing”.

“They rocked the wall but, unfortunately, it rocked backwards onto them,” said Mr Hardingham.

He said that Ms Lee’s daughter had raised the alarm, going inside and shouting to her mother, “help mum, daddy and Swaley are trapped under the wall”.

“They went next door to the fire station to try to get help,” said Mr Hardingham.

He said that the family had “bought the property to renovate and sell for a profit”.

The coroner said the home was “in the process of renovation and the family were largely staying in a caravan at the time”.

“They were doing it themselves,” Mr Brookes said.

He continued: “Following a fish and chip supper, Swaley and his father Scott went out it seems, and I find they went out to have a go at finishing the garage or at least to inspect what was due next.”

Mr Brookes recorded that Scott-Swaley died of compression asphyxia after the wall collapsed on them.

“The weight of the wall put such pressure on his chest that his heart couldn’t work properly,” said Mr Brookes.

“His blood couldn’t reach his brain, he went unconscious and died.”

He said it was an “extraordinarily tragic accident”, adding: “He was a 12-year-old boy with his whole life ahead of him.”

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