Edinburgh pupil leaning against wall before its collapse killed 12 year old

14 June 2017, 15:41

Keane Walis-Bennet

A teenager has told an inquiry she was leaning against a wall while "mucking about'' in a school changing-room when the structure collapsed, killing another pupil.

The girl also described how she felt "scared'' to talk to police when they questioned her about the tragic event the following day.

Keane Wallis-Bennett, 12, died when a modesty wall in the PE block at Liberton High School in Edinburgh collapsed on her on April 1 2014.

A fatal accident inquiry (FAI) is being held at Edinburgh Sheriff Court to examine the full circumstances surrounding the incident.

Two schoolgirls who were in the changing-room at the time were called to give evidence to the inquiry on Wednesday.

One of the girls, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told the hearing she was changing in the shower area for football at PE, the second lesson of the day, when the incident happened.

Giving evidence via a video link, the teenager said: "Me and (another girl) were sort of mucking about, having a laugh, and we just sort of had our feet on the opposite wall, it was only for a couple of seconds.

"Then I can't actually remember what happened after because all I remember was the wall falling back.''

The witness demonstrated how her back had been on the wall that fell down, with her feet on an opposite wall.

"I was facing the shower wall, so I leaned on the wall that fell down,'' she told Gavin Anderson, the advocate representing Keane's parents.

The witness told the FAI she did not need to climb up to get into that position.

"It wasn't like that big a gap (between the two walls),'' she said.

The girl said she then fell with the wall when it collapsed and she had to get herself back on her feet.

Asked if she had been pushing back towards the wall she was leaning on, she replied: "No, I think I was just trying to keep myself up.

"(It was) only a couple of seconds because it went by so quickly ... maybe two or three seconds.''

The witness said that was the first time they had ever done something like that and said she had never seen anyone else doing so.

She said the pupils were all in "shock'' following the incident.

The inquiry heard the girl was spoken to by police the following day.

Asked whether she had told them everything she knew, she replied: "No, I was scared and didn't know what to do.''

She later said she was "already getting blamed for stuff'' from other pupils.

Another girl, who cannot be named, told the court how she sustained bruises when the falling wall hit the side of her legs as she stood in the changing room.

The FAI, before Sheriff Principal Mhairi Stephen QC, continues on Thursday.