Mother criticises probe into daughter’s death at Inquest

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The heartbroken mother of a young girl who was crushed by her pony in a showjumping accident has criticised the police response to the tragedy.

Ethna Wiley was speaking just moments after the Inquest into the death of her 13-year-old daughter Hannah on Tuesday at Derry Courthouse.

Mrs Wiley, who attended the Inquest with her husband Edmund, read out a short statement in court, much of which she repeated outside the courthouse after the hearing.

Speaking outside, she described Hannah had been “fun-loving and sport mad”, adding: “We are law abiding people. We needed the help of the PSNI, and we feel they let us down by lack of investigation.

“We then heard through the media that Derry City Council were going to carry out a thorough investigation. This never took place.”

Earlier, giving evidence, a PSNI constable said that he had never given assurances there would be an investigation to the family on the night in question, and said that it was not deemed necessary at the time for police to preserve the scene.

Mrs Wiley also added that her family, who come from Artigarvan outside Strabane, had to “endure” learning long after the event that Eglinton Equestrian Centre committee member Leslie McFaul, who gave evidence at the hearing, had taken down and reassembled some of the equipment at the scene of the fatal tragedy the morning afterwards.

Coroner Jim Kitson said in his summing up that while this was “regrettable”, he was satisfied that the jumps at the centre were dismantled “entirely innocently”.

Various eye-witnesses, including Hannah’s father, described how they watched in horror as her pony, named Jobbers, clipped the top pole at the fourth gate in the 80cm showjumping round, and Hannah was thrown forward onto the ground before the animal, whose legs were entangled in the pole, somersaulted and landed on top of her.

The tragedy occurred on the night on August 17th, 2012, and Hannah was later pronounced dead at Altnagelvin Hospital after numerous attempts at resuscitation failed to make any difference.

Much of yesterday’s hearing focused on the cups which held the poles in place at the event gymkhana event.

An expert examined metal and plastic cups at Eglinton, but said that as far as he could ascertain all conformed to normal standards expected.

In his concluding remarks, the Coroner said: “It goes without saying we will never know exactly what happened on that dreadful night”, and added that the Eglinton Centre was clearly well run and was using equipment they had used for many years.

He added that Hannah had died from “devastating abdominal and chest injuries due to the crushing effect of her pony falling on top of her”.

A pathologist had earlier stated there had been lacerations to Hannah’s liver sustained in the accident which would have been unsurvivable, as well as other serious damage to her abdomen and chest area.




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