Unlawful killing conclusion to be considered in Scout fall inquest

A jury will consider unlawful killing by gross negligence manslaughter at the inquest into the death of a teenager who fell 200ft on a Scout expedition.

Ben Leonard, 16, from Stockport, Greater Manchester, was on an organised trip with the Reddish Explorer Scouts when he suffered fatal head injuries after falling from cliffs on the Great Orme in North Wales on August 26, 2018.

David Pojur, assistant coroner for North Wales east and central, on Monday gave the ten jurors legal directions and a “route to conclusion” following eight weeks of evidence.

The inquest, which began on January 4, has heard Ben’s family were lied to with suggestions the “approach” initially taken by the Scout Association was to blame the boy for the tragedy amid worries over “reputational damage” to the organisation.

Mr Pojur told jurors their job was not to blame any person or organisation, but establish the facts and said four conclusions were available on the evidence.

He said they could conclude the reason for Ben’s death was unlawful killing by one or both of the Scout leaders on the trip, Sean Glaister and Mary Carr, contributed to by neglect by The Scout Association.

Two further conclusions open to jurors, Mr Pojur said, were misadventure or misadventure contributed to by neglect by one or both of the Scout leaders on the trip, or by The Scout Association.

Jurors are now hearing the evidence summed up by the coroner before they will retire to consider their conclusions.

Mr Glaister, the most senior Scout leader on the trip when Ben fell, declined to answer a series of questions from a lawyer representing Ben’s family during the inquest after Mr Pojur warned him he did not have to answer some questions if the answer was to incriminate himself.

Ben and two friends had separated from the other Scouts and the Scout leaders, who had “lost” them at the time Ben fell from the cliffs.

The inquest jury also has heard suggestions thar Mr Glaister had believed another man, Brian Garraway, group Scout leader, was also going on the trip, only to discover he was not present when he got to their campsite in Snowdonia.

It meant no suitably qualified first aider was present for the trip, which broke Scout rules for expeditions.

No formal written risk assessment was done before the Scouts ventured out onto the Orme.

Mr Glaister said he had not warned any of the Scouts, including Ben, not to leave the paths up the Orme and he was not aware of the dangers of the cliff edges.

He agreed the Scout Association never monitored his activities or ensured any training he was supposed to undergo had ever been done.

Bernard Richmond KC, representing Ben’s family for law firm Fieldfisher, suggested to Mr Glaister that the Scout Association had “hung you out to dry”.

Two previous inquests were scheduled and aborted until the current hearing – where the Scouts for the first time admitted responsibility and apologised for failings – some five-and-a-half years after Ben’s death.

The Scouts now admit there was a lack of a risk assessment, lack of appropriate supervision and a lack of instructions on the trip that allowed Ben and two other youngsters to venture out alone into a dangerous environment.

The hearing was adjourned until Tuesday morning.

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