Rugby death avoidable, inquest told
Published 05/09/2012 | 13:42
If modern concussion guidelines had been applied before a schoolboy rugby player's death he would be alive today, his mother has told his inquest.
Benjamin Robinson, 14, collapsed on the field in Carrickfergus, Co Antrim, in January last year and died from head injures. He was checked for concussion several times during the game but his mother Karen Walton told the match referee that the methods used were "antiquated".
"If the Pocket Scat guide had been applied, Ben would still be here," she said.
The International Rugby Board guide (Pocket SCAT2) for detecting symptoms of concussion and recommending simple tests was updated following Benjamin's death and was recently drawn to referee David Brown's attention.
Mrs Walton said: "You did not have knowledge of this guide that I can download and I can read, and I can stand at every school on a Saturday morning and give it out to every player."
According to his coach Neal Kennedy, Benjamin was able to answer a series of questions testing mental function, including telling the Carrickfergus Grammar School teacher where he was, before his final collapse.
Benjamin's mother cross-examined referee Mr Brown about the game - during which her son was involved in a series of heavy tackles.
She asked him: "Is it possible that my son's concussion has been missed because of the antiquated methods applied?"
Mr Brown testified he could not say for sure if concussion had been missed. He was only given the revised pocket guide listing symptoms of the condition a few weeks ago, although an earlier version of it had been available for several years.
The inquest has been adjourned and Carrickfergus Grammar School will seek more witnesses with a new police investigating officer after Benjamin's family expressed concern about the original constable's handling of the case.