Keane Wallis-Bennett FAI: Sheriff opening remarks in full

Liberton High School pupil Keane Wallis-Bennett.
Liberton High School pupil Keane Wallis-Bennett.
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The opening statement from Sheriff Principal Mhairi M. Stephen QC in the Keane Wallis-Bennett fatal accident inquiry.

The purpose of this inquiry will be to establish as precisely as I can the circumstances of Keane’s death.

However I would first of all like to place on record my personal expression of sympathy to Keane’s parents, family and friends.

I add to that condolences on behalf of this court and everyone involved in this Inquiry.

The whole community was deeply shocked by Keane’s death – a young woman who attended school on the first of April three years ago –and did not return to her family.

We know that Keane died at school in the changing room of the PE block when a “modesty wall “collapsed on top of her causing fatal injuries.

There is a particular poignancy surrounding this tragic event.

We can all reflect that school is a place where young people should be inspired by learning to understand that there is no limit to their potential and ambition.

This Inquiry begins at a time when Keane’s contemporaries, including her classmates, have recently been taking exams and preparing to make their way in life.

This leads me to record my appreciation of the constructive approach which the parties to this Inquiry have adopted when preparing for the commencement of these proceedings.

There has been substantial agreement of statements and other evidence from pupils and teachers who were present at the time of this tragedy.

This assists the Inquiry focus on the issues which are truly important which include the property maintenance regime; and the wall – why it collapsed when it did.

However, the most significant achievement has been the agreement of statements made by Keane’s classmates; other pupils and staff which has spared them from attending to give evidence.

I understand that attending court can cause anxiety and there is a real risk of being re traumatised by recounting what happened in the female changing room on 1 April three years ago. Thankfully that has been avoided.

The Inquiry will commence today with evidence from Police witnesses.