The father of tragic schoolgirl Keane Wallis-Bennett feared he would commit suicide as he plunged into a deep depression following his daughter’s death in a freak accident.
Clark Bennett, who was put on suicide watch and prescribed anti-depressants in the aftermath of the tragedy, went into shock after being told Keane had died.
Keane, 12, was killed on April 1 last year when a wall in the gym changing rooms at Liberton High School collapsed on her.
Mr Bennett was called by the school and told his daughter had been involved in an accident.
He said: “I thought it was just protocol to call me and that it wouldn’t be anything serious. But when I got there, I saw all the emergency services there and I was taken into the headmaster’s office.
“[Keane’s mother] Abbie was there too. We were told a wall had collapsed and Keane had taken a knock to the head.”
It was only later that headmaster Stephen Kelly confirmed the worst.
“Mr Kelly came in with the police,” Mr Bennett said. “He sat down and said ‘I’m sorry – Keane has been pronounced dead’. Abbie collapsed and I went into shock. We weren’t allowed to see her body.”
It fell to Mr Bennett to collect Keane’s 11-year-old brother with police and break the news.
“We were travelling back to Liberton High in the car when I told Ryan that Keane had been killed,” he said. “It was the hardest thing to do. He was screaming and crying.”
Mr Bennett, who lost his business working as a chef following the tragedy, said: “In my darkest days, I thought about taking my own life. I was prescribed anti-depressants and put on suicide watch.
“I had no idea if the medicine was working on not – I still don’t know how I’m supposed to feel. I will never get over losing Keane. I feel empty and lost without her.
“I think about her every day. Sometimes, if I’m busy, I feel guilty for getting caught up in something and not thinking about her for a short while.
“She was cheeky and full of fun. When I think of her I always remember her joyful craziness. I used to call her Budgie, because when she was here she would deliberately sit in my spot on the sofa to watch TV and I would constantly be telling her to ‘budge’. Sometimes I go in the room she used at my house before bed and I just sit alone with my memories of her.”
Mr Bennett told how he visited Keane’s body twice a day while she lay at the funeral parlour.
“She still just looked like my Keane,” he said. “I would beg her to wake up. I took a ring off my finger and put it on Keane’s while she was in her coffin. I just wanted her to have it.
“Milestones are especially difficult. I didn’t celebrate Christmas at all. I just sat at home all day. I didn’t even put a tree up.
“I bought Keane an Easter egg and took it to her memorial plaque at Mortonhall crematorium.
“The family also had to get through what would have been her 13th birthday on Valentine’s Day, and of course the anniversary of the accident on April 1.
A health and safety investigation into the incident is being carried out, with family still waiting on the findings. Mr Bennett said that he would use the courts to hold responsible whoever was to blame.
He said: “I’m angry that we still don’t know how it happened. School is somewhere kids should be safe. If I don’t get any answers, I will go to court. I will sue whoever I believe is responsible.”