Schoolgirl, Keane Wallis-Bennett death inquiry to begin

Keane Wallis-Bennett
Keane Wallis-Bennett

FORMER teachers and classmates of a schoolgirl who tragically died when a wall collapsed on her are to give evidence as a Fatal Accident inquiry gets under way next week.

The probe into the death of Liberton High School pupil Keane Wallis-Bennett comes more than three years after the 12-year-old was killed in a changing room.

Parties involved will attend Edinburgh Sheriff Court from Monday, where the inquiry will be heard before Sheriff Principal Mhairi Stephen QC.

Evidence will be heard over a two-week period and is set to include statements from teachers, pupils, police and technical experts.

Last year it emerged that no-one would be charged over the schoolgirl’s death following an investigation by the Crown Office into the tragic incident.

Keane’s father, Clark Bennett, previously spoke of his relief at the decision.

Mr Bennett, who now lives in Inverness, said at the time that his family hadn’t wanted to endure a criminal trial and instead wanted to focus on trying to rebuild their lives.

He said: “I knew it was never going to happen. And now the Fatal Accident Inquiry will be starting.

“The outcome of the FAI will hopefully give Keane’s mum and me a way to know exactly what happened that morning. This decision has given myself and the rest of my family a bit of closure.

“I have been dealing with the police and my lawyer every second day, how can I move on with that going on?”

Representatives from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) are also expected to be present during the proceedings.

The case was investigated by police and the HSE under the direction of the Crown’s health and safety division.

The Crown Office added that a criminal ruling could still be reconsidered if new evidence over the circumstances of Keane’s death came to light.

Hundreds paid tribute to the 12-year-old after new of her death broke, while a song written by a group of Keane’s friends made it into the top 100 on the download chart in December 2014.

Keane’s mother, Abbie Wallis, last year said she hoped the inquiry would prompt changes to the way school building structures are monitored.

She said: “If they hadn’t decided to hold an inquiry, it would have felt like Keane wasn’t important enough to look into what happened.

“I hope lessons will be learned regarding how school surveys are carried out and money prioritised.

“Now, whatever plans will be put in place, people will think, ‘That’s because that little girl died’.

“My biggest fear is that people will forget her. This way she will always be remembered.”

As well as investigating the circumstances surrounding Keane’s death, the inquiry will also examine the safety of internal freestanding walls.

Liberton’s gym hall has since been demolished on the wishes of school staff and parents.

florence.snead@jpress.co.uk