Jury Inquest at Wakefield Coroners Court concludes that Spencer James Walker died as a result of an accident

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Jury Inquest

The jury heard that on the 3rd October 2016 Spencer James Walker, 12 from South Elmsall was out with friends when he climbed upon the canopy of Kirkbridge Footbridge which crosses the East Coast Railway Lines.

He managed to pass the protective spikes and gain access to the roof of the cage.  Spencer then climbed down alongside the bridge and touched the overhead line with his foot.  Spencer sustained unsurvivable injuries and died in Leeds General Infirmary on the 5 October 2016.

Our Partner, Gareth Naylor, acted on behalf of the family and stated;

"I am very proud to have represented the family of Spencer at this inquest. 

The family have shown a great deal of courage during this process and have done Spencer proud.

It is evident that Spencer wasn’t a bad kid, he had never been in trouble with the police, he had a 97% attendance record at school and has been described by his Principal as a cheeky chappy and a role model who was well liked.

Spencer was, like many young boys his age, an adventurous little boy and this bridge was an allurement to him.

It appears from the evidence heard that Spencer had no idea as to the dangers of touching the overhead lines. Had there been a warning sign as to the risk of death from touching the line, which was carrying 25,000 volts, then he may have thought twice.

Whilst no standards were apparently in place when the line was electrified in 1993, Network Rail are party to standards released in 1997 some 20 years ago, which appears to be a sufficient period of time for them to ensure that their equipment, that can prove fatal, met current standards.

We also have the issue of the 2002 Principle Inspection report carried out by Wakefield Metropolitan Borough Council which recognised that the protective measures did not act as a deterrent, as kids were simply climbing onto the canopy and stepping over the Chevaux De Frise.  It was also recognised that the chevaux de frise did not meet British Standards in terms of its size and location.  The relevant ramp was also without anti-climb panels.

Unfortunately, this report does not appear to have been considered."

The coroner ruled that the evidence heard did not satisfy the Galbraith Plus test, and directed the Jury to return a short form conclusion.

Since the accident warning signs have been installed at over 200 bridges and the chevaux de frise on this particular bridge has been relocated at the end of the canopy and anti-climb panels have been installed.

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