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Inquest on tree branch death boy

28 June 07 13:00 GMT

An inquest on a boy who was killed by a falling tree branch on a school trip has been opened and adjourned.

Daniel Mullinger, 11, from Stanway, near Colchester, Essex, died and three other children were injured in Tuesday's accident at Felbrigg.

They were among nearly 60 children from Heathlands Primary School in West Bergholt near Colchester, Essex.

Post-mortem tests found Daniel suffered a head injury when the branch, weighing up to four tons, fell on him.

The coroner at the inquest in Norwich, William Armstrong, said Daniel took the full force of the branch.

Three other children were injured. An 11-year-old boy with pelvic and internal injuries has been moved to Great Ormond Street Hospital, London where his condition is described as critical but stable.

An 11-year-old girl is in a comfortable condition in hospital after suffering leg and arm injuries and a 10-year-old boy suffered a wrist injury.

The pupils were on a five-day break at Aylmerton Field Study Centre in Aylmerton, Norfolk.

The accident happened in the grounds of Felbrigg Hall, a manor and estate owned by the National Trust.

Nick Champion from the National Trust said he was devastated at the incident.

"We are working very closely with the Health and Safety Executive to piece together events.

Risk assessment

"We have a comprehensive and very rigorous tree management procedure which has been updated recently and involves a series of inspections, depending on the usage of the area."

Claire Piper, from Essex County Council said it was a "tragic accident".

"We think it is very important for children to have an outdoor education - it enhances social skills and gives them a sense of adventure.

"We have 760 people trained to risk-assess school trips and the school did everything it needed to do... exactly as policy said."

Daniel's grandfather, Cliff Mullinger, 70, said on Wednesday that he hoped the death would not stop other children going on trips.

He said: "The branch could have fallen on absolutely anyone.

"It was a freak accident. It's a one-in-a-million chance of this sort of thing happening and you can't stop it."

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