Boy, 10, charged over flats death

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The Independent Online
JONATHAN FOSTER

Northern Correspondent

A 10-year-old boy was charged last night with the manslaughter of a pensioner who suffered massive head injuries when she was hit by a lump of concrete.

Edna Condie, aged 74, died as she and her husband, George, and daughter, Janet, were entering a block of flats in Leeds on Tuesday.

The accused boy will appear before Leeds youth court this morning. Two other boys aged 10 and nine who were also arrested have been released without charge.

Residents yesterday described how the roof and upper floors of Grayson Heights, in Kirkstall, Leeds, became a perilous playground. Punctured aerosol cans were thrown and children dared each other to swing from a plank laid across the 15ft gap between the block's two wings.

Detective Chief Inspector Bob Browell said yesterday: "Residents in the area are being helpful towards us. There has been a mixed reaction - shock, disbelief, and anger."

The Kirkstall estate is not counted by the city council among the most turbulent communities in Leeds and Grayson Heights is one of a pair of 12-storey tower blocks surrounded by maisonettes. There is little graffiti on the walls and no evidence of widespread vandalism.

Residents yesterday deplored the lack of a playground for a council estate where 400 children live. Some elderly residents claimed that Kirkstall was deteriorating, but younger tenants said the area was free of the drugs and crime present on other estates.

Derek Green, 35, an unemployed former soldier, said he was happy to have been housed in Grayson Heights. "I've met a lot of very nice, friendly people. I quite like to go up to the roof. I do a lot of Tai Chi training up there. I've not seen children playing up there, but I have occasionally seen things flying off the roof. I didn't report it because the authorities don't take any notice," he said.

Some residents claim the first complaints about objects thrown from the roof began three weeks ago. "I told the children to keep away because it was dangerous, but there is nothing else for kids to do - only a small park with just one swing," one woman said.

t Robert Thompson and Jon Venables, convicted in 1993 of the murder of James Bulger, aged two, were the youngest defendants to stand trial for murder this century. They were aged 10 years and six months at the time of the offence.

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