Family of deceased youth rugby player grieves anew at inquest
Belfast, Ireland (4E Sports) – Grief struck anew the family of a young rugby player who died during a school match as they watched footage of the game during an inquest into his death.
Ben Robinson, 14, of Carrick Grammar was playing against Dalraida High School in January 2011 when he collapsed after making a tackle in the last minute of the game.
Robinson was treated at the scene by Dr. Paul Loan before he was rushed to the Royal Victoria Hospital (RVH) in Belfast where he was later pronounced dead.
Before playing the footage, coroner Suzanne Anderson advised the boy’s parents , Peter Robinson and Karen Walton to leave the court during sensitive portions of the game tape but they refused.
The parents broke down several times during the showing of the footage, which showed the player holding his head while getting back to his feet after a bruising tackle.
Gabriel Ingram, a lawyer for the family, said a spectator could be heard at one point shouting: “Good tackle, Ben Robinson, well done son” after the tackle while another one said “he was clean out there.”
Ingram said the footage also showed a fellow player “looking quizzically” at him at one point during the game.
Ingram also criticized police officer Constable David Mannis, the family liaison officer, for drawing a blank in the investigation of the player’s death.
Mannis said he took a number of witness statements to the incident but his appeal to the principals of both schools for pupils at the match to come forward was unsuccessful.
“I just tried my best,” said Mannis, adding that he was told by principal Tom Skelton that pupils at Dalriada in Ballymoney were too traumatized to give evidence.
Ingram, however, said the policeman lost a huge potential chunk of witness evidence by not pursuing it.
When Ingram became involved in the investigation, they have received six new statements from witnesses that could shed light on Robinson’s death.