Boy, 9, died of head injury after ‘falling from lockers in pool changing room’

A young boy died after he climbed a locker unit in a school changing room and it fell over, an inquest has heard.

Leo Latifi, aged nine, had attended an after-school swimming club at Great Baddow High School in Chelmsford, Essex, on May 23 last year.

He was in the changing room with a friend the same age while his father watched his younger brother swim.

The friend told officers that Leo was climbing the locker unit when it fell over and Leo appeared to have hit his head on a bench during the incident.

Emergency services were called, but Leo sadly died in hospital at 7.32pm.

His cause of death was recorded as a severe head injury, Essex Coroner's Court heard today, (Tuesday).

The transcript of a police interview with Leo's friend was read during the hearing.

"He was at the top in the middle, we were like chatting and that then I felt it going back so I jumped off and went to the side of it," he said.

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Leo "tried to put one foot down but he couldn't, then his head hit the bench", he said.

He said that "all the dads started charging in" and Leo's father asked Leo "what were you doing?".

Asked whose idea it was to climb the lockers, he said: "Well Leo has climbed them before and he mentioned it and started going and I was at the bottom chatting."

Asked if Leo got to the very top of the lockers, the boy said: "No, he was just putting his hands on the top."

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He said he did not think Leo had ever got to the top before, adding: "That's the first time I've ever seen him climb the lockers."

The locker unit was 1.8 metres tall, 1.5 metres wide and around half a metre in depth.

Mark Buxton, the school's site manager, said the sports college, including the changing rooms, were refurbished in 2005-06, and a new vinyl flooring was installed in the changing rooms in 2013-14.

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Mr Buxton said he thought the flooring contractor "cut round the lockers so… he just left the lockers in place" in 2013-14.

He said the lockers "looked to have integrity, they looked to be robust, I've never really had any cause to look at them for maintenance".

Matthew Flynn, representing Leo's family, asked Mr Buxton if fixtures on the lockers were inspected.

"No, they were not checked," said Mr Buxton.

"I didn't know they had fixings."

The inquest, which is being heard before a jury and is listed for four days, continues.

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