Mother ‘angry and cheated’ as inquest into death of five-year-old girl delayed

Alexia Walenkaki
Alexia Walenkaki died when a rotting playground swing collapsed on her in Mile End park in July 2015. Photograph: Family handout

The family of a five-year-old girl who was killed by a falling tree in Mile End Park will have to wait until next year for her inquest.

Alexia Walenkaki was playing on a rope swing in the council-run play area when a tree trunk holding the swing fell on her on 17 July last year. She died just hours later at the Royal London Hospital.

A three-day hearing was due to begin yesterday morning at St Pancras Coroner’s court. But the family was told after they had arrived in court that the case was being put on hold for further police inquiries.

The chief coroner for St Pancras and Poplar, Mary Hassell, said the delay was “very undesirable” – but she had “no alternative” as the police and the Crown Prosecution Service said they needed to conduct further investigations.

Alexia’s mother, Vida Kwotuah, 43, told the Evening Standard: “I feel very angry and cheated. I’m angry that the log wasn’t checked for quite some time. If it wasn’t for those lapses by the council, Alexia would still be here.”

The tragic incident is being investigated by police and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). A pre-inquest review at St Pancras Coroner’s court in January heard that corporate manslaughter charges could be brought against Tower Hamlets Council.

A Tower Hamlets spokesperson told the East End Citizen the council had since checked equipment at all council run play facilities, and that there is “regular maintenance and monitoring of park and play equipment”.

Tower Hamlets Mayor John Biggs said: “This was a tragic incident and my thoughts are with Alexia’s family.

“The council continues to co-operate fully with the police and HSE investigation, which is ongoing.”

The inquest is due to re-open on 16 January 2017. The hearing is listed for seven days at St Pancras Coroner’s Court.

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