Mother of boy who died on rugby pitch wanted son off at half time


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The Independent Online

A schoolboy who died on a rugby pitch in Northern Ireland should have been taken off at half time, his mother said.

Benjamin Robinson, 14, was involved in too many heavy tackles and by the end of the game in Carrickfergus, Co Antrim, was staggering on his feet and forgetting that he was playing, Karen Walton added.

An inquest in Belfast is considering whether Benjamin was concussed at an earlier stage and should have been taken off.

Mrs Walton said: "I wanted Ben off at half time as I felt he was involved in too many tackles and I felt he had done his bit for the game, regardless of when he came off."

Benjamin was playing for Carrickfergus Grammar against Dalriada High in January last year.

State pathologist Jack Crane believes he died from Second Impact Syndrome, two heavy knocks close to each other which caused swelling in the brain.

School friends have given differing accounts of his behaviour during the match - with one claiming he was "knocked out" at an earlier stage and should have been taken off, but others saying he assured them that he was okay.

Mrs Walton said she felt uneasy and wanted her son off because she believed he was involved in too many tackles.

She added: "I wanted Ben off. I heard Ben shout 'I am not remembering this, I am not remembering playing'.

"I shouted at Ben 'Are you all right?' I don't believe he heard me calling him."

The referee looked over to her and told her to calm down, the inquest heard.

Mrs Walton added: "He was less than 10ft from me, he was swaying and shaking his head as if to clear it. He had his arms straight out to the side, he was staggering on his feet.

"I realised something was very wrong, that he was not engaged in play, and I shouted 'Ben, are you all right'?

"My son turned and said 'I don't feel right'."

Mrs Walton said at the end she saw a player on the other side of the pitch on the ground.

She added: "Something inside me clicked and I just knew it was my son and I had to go to the other side of the pitch to see him.

"I started running across the pitch to him."

She said Benjamin was pale and had tears in his eyes as he lay on the ground. He was making a rasping noise. His mother placed her coat over him.

She told him: "Benjamin, mummy's here, you are going to be okay."

Mrs Walton said: "Ben is a good boy, he never gave me any bother. I am totally devastated by this loss."

She said he played his X-Box games console until early in the morning and he did not "run the streets".

He achieved an A in his transfer test from primary school and was improving academically at Carrickfergus Grammar.

She said the teenager enjoyed supporting Manchester United and looking after members of his family, while becoming absorbed in rugby.

She scrambled eggs for him on the morning of his death.

"At that stage I had a thought that said this was the last time you will make your son eggs," she said.

She recalled that he was subdued and appeared nervous. She said shortly after the start of the game she saw Benjamin making a hard tackle and winced at the ferocity of it.

Consultant neuropathologist Brian Herron said he believed the victim was concussed at the end of the game when Mrs Walton was talking to him.

"The other evidence does not convince me," he said.

He had particular difficulty with evidence from a schoolboy spectator that Benjamin was knocked out earlier in the game, pointing out that he changed his description and became uncomfortable when questioned.

Dr Herron said when Benjamin did not know the score that did not mean he had forgotten it and may have just been concentrating on the game.

He said being wobbly after a tackle is par for the course, according to other expert evidence.

The inquest continues.