Keane’s friends ‘told teachers wall was wobbly’

Keane Wallis-Bennett
Keane Wallis-Bennett

FRIENDS of Keane Wallis-Bennett told a teacher that a wall would “shake and wobble” before it collapsed killing the 12-year-old, a Fatal Accident Inquiry heard.

One of the girls contacted Keane’s mum, Abbie Wallis, this week after reading in the Evening News that teachers had denied being alerted to the wall at the hearing.

Abbie Wallis

Abbie Wallis

Giving evidence on the fifth day of the FAI at Edinburgh Sheriff Court, PE teacher Nicole Christie repeatedly denied being warned.

Keane died on April 1, 2014, when a two-metre high, free-standing “modesty” concrete wall, collapsed in the girls’ changing room of Liberton High School’s old PE Department.

“I started to notice the wall shaking,” said the 15-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, in a police statement read to the inquiry.

“It shook when the changing room door closed. You could actually see it wobble. It would move two or three centimetres and I’d describe it as a fast shake for two or three seconds then it would stop.

“If the window was open, it would shake with a big gust of wind.”

She said she reported this to Miss Christie in late 2013 but was told: “It’s fine, don’t worry about it.”

Another girl said she too reported to Miss Christie the wall “wobbling” after her friend climbed on it the day before the tragic accident that killed Keane and was told: “It’s going to be all right.”

A third pupil said she overheard a classmate tell a teacher the wall “wobbled” but “could not be sure” which staff member.

Miss Christie, a probationary dance teacher at the time, denied any such conversations took place or having any knowledge of a faulty wall.

“Absolutely no pupils or anybody else in the school told me about a wall being wobbly,” said Miss Christie, 26. “I would have reported it straight away and made sure no-one could get into the changing rooms.”

Earlier, Miss Christie told of the immediate aftermath of the tragedy as she was in the changing rooms fetching a spare leotard for a girl who had forgot her kit.

“I just heard a massive bang and turned around,” she said. “I shouted for everyone to get out of the changing room and as girls walked towards me I saw a leg and a bag.”

Of attempts to save Keane, Miss Christie added: “I tried to move the wall off her but it was too heavy and so I called out for help.

“Some of the girls had to help us move the concrete. We couldn’t get it off.”

Miss Christie sat with pupils in the gym as paramedics battled to save Keane.

“They were panicking, there was crying, they could hear the ambulance sirens,” she said of students.

“I couldn’t tell them anything at that point and that’s when the rumours started. One girl said she was leaning against the wall. I had to reassure her.”

Miss Christie said pupils were upset at what happened and she was in shock. The inquiry heard that pupils had leaned on the wall to change their shoes when it collapsed on top of Keane.

She added: “There was nothing out of the ordinary that day - there was nothing. There was a normal school day up to that point.”

She also told the inquiry that she had been affected by what happened.

Miss Christie added: “You don’t go into teaching and expect to have an incident like that happen to you.”

The inquiry continues.