1 Nov 2016

Napier school death: No safety rules about repairs, inquest hears

7:01 pm on 1 November 2016

A school where a boy died after trying to escape a locked cubicle had no health and safety rules in place for toilet repairs, an inquest has been told.

Aryan Banerjee

Aryan Banerjee Photo: Supplied

Aryan Banerjee, 9, died of accidental strangulation when his shirt got caught on a window latch as he tried to climb out of the cubicle at Taradale Primary School on 25 May last year.

Aryan had been unable to open the door, which had been left without a handle during repairs.

He was found unconscious and struggling to breathe, and died in Hawke's Bay Regional Hospital on 9 September 2015.

Police, WorkSafe and several school staff have been called as witnesses at the two-day coronial inquest in the Hastings District Court.

The Banerjee's family lawyer, Nigel Hampton QC, this morning questioned whether there were any health and safety protocols in place for doing repairs to toilet doors.

The school caretaker, whose name is suppressed, said there were no such rules - then or now.

He said what happened to Aryan was an unfortunate accident.

The inquest was told cones and signs were used to mark any repairs being done in the toilets.

Coroner Tim Scott is looking to establish the cause and circumstances of what happened, and whether the school has changed procedures as a result.

Police have always maintained the case was an accident, and have not laid charges.

Neither has WorkSafe, whose investigation found the circumstances that caused the death were not reasonably foreseeable and charges were not legally justified.

The family has considered a private prosecution.

The coroner does not determine civil, criminal, or disciplinary liability, but can make comments or recommendations to reduce the chances of deaths occurring in similar circumstances.