Family of Boy Killed at Tourist Spot Sue

The families of four children caught up in a ``terrible tragedy'' when a massive branch fell on them during a school trip to a stately home in Norfolk have sued the National Trust for damages.

Daniel Mullinger, 11, died instantly when the 70ft timber, which weighed two tons, crashed down without warning from the 180-year-old beech in the Great Wood at 17th century Felbrigg Hall.

Three of his companions from Heathlands Church of England Primary School, in West Bergholt, Essex, were also hurt on Midsummer's Day in June 2007, said Jonathan Watt-Pringle QC.

Harry Bowen, now 15, of Armoury Road, West Bergholt, was the most severely injured and is dependent on a wheelchair, although he can walk short distances with two sticks.

Max Farley, 14, of Bourne Road, West Bergholt, and Katie Farthing, 15, of Armoury Road, West Bergholt, both suffered multiple fractures as well as psychological injury.

They were part of a group who had gone to have fun on a Monster Trail at the estate during a residential course at Aylmerton Field Study Centre.

The three injured children were at London's High Court with their parents but the judge, Mr Justice Mackay, was told that Daniel's family, of Pirie Road, West Bergholt, had not felt able to attend.

Opening the contested four-day case, Mr Watt-Pringle said the case was about whether, on this particular occasion, when dealing with this particular very mature beech tree, the trust discharged the duties upon them imposed by law, which are not in contention.``

The tree was in a ``medium risk'' zone which involved an inspection at least every two years.

The trust, which denies liability, maintains that it saw nothing wrong with the tree and had no reason to be worried about it. The claimants contend that remedial action was called for which could have been taken without great expense or difficulty.