Boy, 16, hit on head by hockey ball thrown by his friend in playground, was killed in 'tragic accident'
Kyle Rees, 16, got in the way of the hard object as it was launched across school playground during boisterous ball fight between groups of pupilsTeenager told his friend 'I'm fine' before collapsing and falling unconsciousInquest today recorded the boy, also 16, never intended to harm Kyle
22:42 GMT, 29 November 2012
Tragic: Kyle Rees, 16, was struck on the head by a hockey ball at school which was thrown by a friend and died from the injuries
The death of a schoolboy who was
struck on the head at close range by a hockey ball thrown by a friend
was a tragic accident, it was ruled today.
Kyle Rees, 16, got in the way of the
hard object as it was launched across a school playground during a
boisterous ball fight between two large groups of pupils.
The teenager told his friend, who
can't be named for legal reasons, 'I'm fine' before he collapsed to the
floor and fell unconscious.
It is not known why Kyle walked into
the path of the ball, although an inquest into his death heard his
periphery vision may have been blocked by his hoodie.
A jury at the inquest today recorded
that the boy, also 16, had never intended to harm Kyle and that nobody
was to blame for what happened.
In a narrative verdict, the jury at Bournemouth Coroner’s Court said: 'The friend did not intend to harm Kyle or anybody.'
The boy was initially arrested on suspicion of manslaughter but he was not charged.
He was described as 'extremely upset and distraught when he realised his friend was dead'.
The verdict also said that there had
been no previous concerns about supervision for the boys during the
changeover time before the incident.
But Kyle's mother Tanya
Cooper, 42, criticised Portchester Boys School in Bournemouth, Dorset,
for failing her son by not supervising the pupils at the time.
A tearful Mrs Cooper said: 'We all
have a duty to love, to care and protect our children. I sent my son to
school because it is the law but he never came home to us.
'As a parent I feel I have failed and
been failed and from what I have heard during this inquest, clearly I
feel the school has failed.
'I feel that Kyle should have been protected. While he was at school they were liable to look after him.'
Weeping: Tanya Cooper, 42, left, the mother of Kyle and Portchester Boys School Head Teacher Debbie Godfrey-Phaure, right, speaking outside Bournemouth Town Hall today
Tanya Cooper weeps today after the court ruled the death of her son was a 'tragic accident'
Mrs Cooper added that she did not blame Kyle's friend who threw the ball for her son's death.
She said: 'I don't hold the boy
responsible. I don't know how he is supposed to cope with everything
because of people not doing what they should have done. I don't know who
of us is suffering more.'
The tragedy happened during an
impromptu and chaotic ball fight between two groups of about 60 pupils
at 2pm on February 28 this year.
As they made their way to a lesson
after the lunchbreak, the boys began throwing about six tennis balls
across the playground at one another.
This escalated with a chair and even a
shoe being launched before the indoor practice hockey ball was picked
up by one pupil and rolled across the playground floor.
Moments later, Kyle encouraged his friend to throw the orange hockey ball over the school's IT block after he had picked it up.
But the teenager then walked in front of the boy and took the full force of the blow from a distance of three feet away.
After he collapsed Kyle began frothing at the mouth and his face turned a purple colour.
He was rushed to the Southampton
General Hospital where doctors established they could do nothing to save
Kyle after he suffered a massive head injury.
The tragic incident happened during the lunchbreak at Porchester Boys School in Bournemouth, Dorset
His family made the heart-rending decision to switch off his life-support machine the day after the accident.
Detective Sergeant Trevor Hawkins told the court Kyle had got in the way at the last minute.
Debbie Godfrey-Phaure, the
headteacher at Portchester school, said: 'Everyone at the school was
devastated when Kyle died and we want to assure his family that he will
not be forgotten and we will always be here for them.
'The school takes its duty of care towards all our children very seriously and always will.
'This was an awful tragic event and I
want to reassure Kyle's mum and dad that staff who personally knew him
were with him all the time. No-one ever left his side.
'We were there talking to him and holding his hand.
'Kyle's memory will live on in the school, we have installed a memorial bench.'
The jury at the inquest in Bournemouth
recorded a narrative verdict at the inquest which stated that Kyle
walked into the path of the hockey ball and his friend never intended to
Mrs Cooper said: 'We are lucky that
Kyle had such a huge personality and he has given his family and friends
so many good memories. Everything we do we do for Kyle to make him
proud of us.'