Belfast Telegraph

Referee's training inadequate, rugby death inquest told

By Michelle Smyth

The mother of a schoolboy who died after collapsing during a rugby game told an inquest the referee was not adequately qualified and used “antiquated methods” for dealing with concussion.

Karen Walton told Belfast’s Coroners Court she did not believe referee David Brown to be “very well qualified” in dealing with concussion because he had not heard of sports concussions assessment tool ‘Pocket Scat2’ until last month.

Benjamin Robinson collapsed on the field in Carrickfergus, Co Antrim, in January last year and died from head injures.

He was checked for concussion during the game, but Ms Walton told the match referee that the methods used were “antiquated”.

The International Rugby Board guide (Pocket Scat2) for detecting symptoms of concussion and recommending simple tests was updated following Benjamin's death.

Addressing Mr Brown in court, Ms Walton said: “I have sat here and listened to you and the coach say you are very well trained to deal with concussion. I am telling you that you are not very well trained, because at the time of Ben’s game you weren’t aware of the Pocket Scat2.”

She then asked Mr Brown if he thinks her son would still be here if the Pocket Scat2 guidelines were followed. He replied: “I couldn’t possibly say.”

Ms Walton also asked Mr Brown if it was possible her son’s concussion was missed due to “antiquated methods” applied by him and the coach. “It is possible for a concussion to be missed because symptoms can be masked,” he said.

Pathologist Jack Crane believes Benjamin died from second impact syndrome brain swelling after two blows to the head.

Mr Brown said he had attended a concussion and serious injury seminar in 2005 and updates his concussion training every year.

Mr Brown said he noticed Benjamin taking a “hard hit” in the first half of the game but that he did not see concussion tests applied in this instance. Mr Brown said Benjamin seemed “dazed” after another blow, but that this was “normal”.

Mr Brown said the coach, Neal Kennedy, checked Benjamin for concussion using methods he was “more than happy with”.

The case was adjourned after it emerged more witnesses from Benjamin’s school have agreed to come forward.

Belfast Telegraph

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