Keane Wallis-Bennett mum talks of daughter’s death

Abbie Wallis and Keane. Pictures: Comp
Abbie Wallis and Keane. Pictures: Comp
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THE mother of tragic schoolgirl Keane Wallis-Bennett, who died when a wall collapsed on her at Liberton High School, has broken her silence to speak about her daughter’s death.

Abbie Wallis, 34, said she was not angry – “just incredibly sad”.

And she said she was too heartbroken to think about taking legal action over the accident.

Abbie also revealed Keane had jokingly suggested skipping school on the day she died.

And she told how she finds it hard to be parted from the the box containing Keane’s ashes.

Keane, 12, was killed last month when a free-standing concrete modesty wall fell on top of her as she changed for PE. There have been claims the wall had been “wobbly” for months.

But Abbie said her pain at losing Keane was still too raw to think about suing the city council.

She said: “I’m not angry at anyone – I’m just incredibly sad.

“Keane never mentioned the wall or anything dangerous. I’m aware of other people talking about it, but it’s not something I’ve even thought about.”

She said she had never suspected Keane would come to any harm at school.

She said: “Even if a wall is pushed or kicked it shouldn’t be able to fall down.

“I would worry about Keane when she went out shopping or for lunch with her friends and I’d text to check she was OK.

“But in my head she was fine when she was at school. It makes it so hard to understand.”

Abbie, a catering assistant, said on the day of the tragedy she had driven Keane and her brother Ryan, 11, to the school, but as she dropped them off they had joked about playing truant.

She said: “It was a really miserable day – rainy and grey. I jokingly said ‘Who’s idea was it to come to school this morning?’ Keane and Ryan both said ‘Turn around and we’ll go home’.

“But I told them ‘It’s naughty. We can’t.’ I should have turned around.”

She said they had been running slightly late.

“We slept in a bit. Every morning we’d say ‘five more minutes’ but Keane would be up at 6.30am doing her hair and make-up, shouting at us to get up.”

They would get into the car about 8.10am and drive the two miles to the school.

“Keane would get dropped off first, then I’d go to Morrison’s with Ryan before it was time for him to go to school.”

And Abbie recalled the last conversation she had with her daughter.

“As she got out of the car I said ‘I love you. Have a nice day. See you later’.

“She said ‘I love you’ back. That’s the last conversation we had. I drove her to the door and she ran in.”

Abbie returned home and the first she knew about the accident was a phone message from the school at 10.01am.

She said: “I had jumped in the shower as I was going to meet a friend. That’s when the call came but I missed it. There was a voicemail saying to phone urgently about Keane.

“When I called back I remember them saying something about an ambulance and that she might be in hospital by the time I got there.

“I was worried, but I thought maybe she had banged her head or broken a bone. I chucked my clothes on and jumped in the car. I got there about 10.20am. When I pulled up I saw fire engines, ambulances and police. My heart dropped. I realised it was worse than I thought.”

Abbie was met by the headteacher Stephen Kelly.

“I was taken to an office. I think they were trying to save Keane. Then I was told about 10.30am she’d passed away.

“It’s all a bit of a blur. I probably screamed and cried. The death certificate said she had multiple injuries. I think it was instant.”

She said she had spoken to Keane’s friends to learn more about Keane’s last moments.

She said: “They were messing around, having a carry-on. The last thing she said to her friend was ‘Pass me my socks’.”

Abbie said she had not been allowed to see Keane immediately after the accident. She said: “I feel guilty I wasn’t there holding her hand.”

And as she struggled to come to terms with the horror of her daughter’s death, other parents were collecting their children from the school.

“I remember looking out the window and seeing the crowds of parents. There was part of me thinking ‘Why me?’ – not that I would wish this on anyone.”

She spoke of her visit to see Keane’s body in the mortuary and then repeated trips to the funeral home.

“In the morgue, she just looked like Keane. She was perfect. There wasn’t a scratch on her. In the funeral home I sat and stroked her hair and her hand. I was just chatting to her, asking ‘why?’ I asked ‘Why didn’t you move out of the way? I’m sorry I wasn’t there for you’.”

Abbie also told how she had made emotional pilgrimages to Liberton High to visit the spot where Keane died.

She said: “I’ve been a couple of times. The first time the rubble of the wall was still there. But I wanted to get that feeling of Keane jumping around with her friends and being bubbly.

“When I went the second time, the debris had been cleared, but I still felt close to her.

“I wanted that again – and to say goodbye.”

Abbie said Keane, who had turned 12 just shortly before the tragedy, had started to blossom into a young woman.

She said: “She got so grown up. We would have our disagreements sometimes over make-up. I used to tell her that her lipstick was too bright.

“She had just turned 12, but she was becoming a young lady.”

She also told how Keane, the youngest in her class, had already started planning for a glitzy nightclub party, complete with stretch limos, to celebrate her 13th birthday.

She said: “Everyone else was turning 13 so she started planning her 13th birthday before her 12th, because everybody else was.

“She wanted a nightclub and limos and she talked about what she wanted to wear – probably a pretty dress and high heels.

“She had even thought about who she was going to invite to her party.

“All she wanted was a pink iphone 5C, but she got that for her Christmas so she was happy.”

Abbie described how she kisses and cuddles the box containing her daughter’s ashes every night at bedtime.

She said she and son Ryan often slept in Keane’s room.

“We say goodnight to her every night. The room is pretty much as she left it. I’ve only tidied up a little bit.”

Keane’s pink dressing gown still hangs from the door and her schoolbag sits on the floor.

She was a huge One Direction fan, loved sleepover and make-up sessions

Abbie said: “We were going to decorate her bedroom. She had picked her new wallpaper – it was white with girly graffiti with hearts and the word ‘Love’ on it.

“She had taken her 1D posters down in her room because we were going to decorate. I’m still going to do that for her.”

Abbie described how she is plagued by nightmares about losing Keane. “I have horrible dreams that she’s lost in a crowd.

“I wake up and think ‘It’s all right, it’s just a dream’. For a split second I think she’s still here.

“I don’t know if it’s really sunk in yet. I keep telling myself she’s on a big sleepover somewhere.

“I still feel like Keane is here, just upstairs watching her favourite move Twilight.

“I think about her constantly.”

And Abbie added: “It’s the little things that are hard and which make me miss her even more.

“The washing basket is half empty and we’ve cut down on food.

“Keane was a good girl. She was funny, caring and loved to laugh.

“We miss her so much – but we’ll always keep her memory alive.”

Police Investigation continues into death

POLICE and council investigations into the death of Keane Wallis-Bennett are still ongoing.

Her death certificate reveals has the 12-year-old died from “multiple injuries” after a modesty wall collapsed on to her at the school.

Cause of death has been entered simply as “Multiple injuries” and “Collapse of internal brick wall”.

Her death has sparked a public debate about the need for extra investment in the fabric of the city’s schools to make sure that they are safe.

Claims have been made that the wall which led to Keane’s death had been reported as “wobbly” prior to the tragedy.

The investigation into her death, which is being led by police with the assistance of the Health and Safety Executive, is ongoing but is understood still to be at the information and evidence-gathering stage and is expected to last for many months. Education leaders have said they are unable to comment on the wall collapse – including how many times it was reported - while an inquiry is ongoing.

Politicians and parent leaders have called for a £30 million plan to upgrade Edinburgh’s schools to be accelerated.

Almost 7000 pupils in the capital are being taught in schools that have or are close to showing major defects.

Keane’s gran slammed the spending on Edinburgh’s new trams saying her granddaughter could still be alive had more money been spent on education.

On social media Alison Wallis said that if so much money had not been wasted on “stupid trams” Keane might still be alive.

Keane named after football hero

KEANE was named after her dad’s football hero - former Manchester United player Roy Keane, who now manages the Republic of Ireland.

The suggestion was originally put forward as a “joke”, but the name stuck.

Abbie first raised the issue with Keane’s dad Clark Bennett while she was still pregnant.

She was amazed when the 47-year-old said he loved the idea.

She said: “We didn’t know at the time whether we were having a boy or a girl, but I joked we should name the baby after Roy Keane.

“It is a very unusual name.”

Mother can’t bear to be parted from keane’s ashes

Abbie has admitted she can’t bear to be parted from Keane’s ashes.

She revealed she finds it hard to go out without them - even once taking them to the shops - and often sits them beside her on the sofa as she watches the TV shows she and her daughter used to enjoy together.

She gives them a kiss and cuddle each night at bedtime, and admitted she even feels guilty when she goes out without taking them with her and leaves them on Keane’s bed surrounded by some of her favourite things.

The heartbroken mother also says she has no plans to scatter them, but instead is hoping at some stage to divide them up and incorporate them into keepsakes from family and close friends.

She said: “It feels natural. I put her down in front of the telly to watch anything that we used to watch together.

“I sit her ashes on the couch in “her spot” or sit with them on my knee”.

“One of our favourites was a programme called Storage Hunters, so sometimes I put that on.

She also said that sometimes she puts Keane’s ashes to bed and puts her favourite Twighlight DVD on her television. And she has also taken her ashes to family get-together’s including meals.

She also revealed that Keane’s coffin was filled with “girlie treats” like chocolate, false nails and even a teddy bear.

At her funeral, attended by over 400 teenagers, many dressed at the family’s request in onesies, One Direction, of whom Keane was a big fan, sent a bouquet of flowers with a message to a “special fan”.