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Napier boy's death avoidable: coroner

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 19/12/2016

A Napier school boy's death by strangulation when climbing out a toilet window should have been avoided, a coroner has found.

Aryan Banerjee, 9, was placed in an induced coma in May 2015 after getting the collar of his shirt caught on a window latch at Taradale Primary School as he tried to exit a locked toilet block.

He died in September of the same year.

Aryan had been stuck in the toilet and unable to open the door because the school's caretaker had removed the door handle to repair it.

After removing the handle, the caretaker left the toilet door wide open and parts of the dismantled mechanism on the ground in front of it.

He then went to his workshop, before returning a short time later to discover the toilet door closed.

However, he did not notice Aryan who was not visible but hanging outside the toilet on the window latch by the back of his shirt collar.

Releasing his findings into the incident on Monday, Coroner Tim Scott said the caretaker had not done enough to avoid an accident.

He said the man should have either put an out of order sign on the toilet door and cordoned it off with cones or simply shut the door, which, with no handle, would have prevented anyone entering the toilet.

"It was not sufficient simply to place a few parts from the mechanism on the floor in front of the door," the coroner said.

"All he actually had to do was to pull the door closed from the outside.

"Then it could not have been opened."

Despite this, Mr Scott said it was not his aim to punish the caretaker.

"Although I have commented adversely about the things he did, I recognise that these were in the nature of significant errors of judgement, which on any other day may have had no consequences," he said.

The caretaker's name remains suppressed and he will not face charges.

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