‘Lost opportunity’ to prevent scout’s death, inquest hears

Ben Leonard, 16, from Stockport, Greater Manchester, was on an organised expedition with the Reddish Explorer Scouts on August 26 2018 when he suffered a serious head injury in the fall from cliffs on the Great Orme in Llandudno.

Craig Jones, the then acting district commissioner for Stockport District Scout Council, told the inquest at Manchester Civil Justice Centre on Monday, January 8, that the trip should not have gone ahead once it was known no qualified first aider was present.

Last week The Scout Association on the first day of the inquest, for the first time publicly apologised and accepted responsibility for the death of the teenager.

But his tearful mother Jackie Leonard said their apology was five-and-a-half years too late and the treatment of her family had been “disgusting”.

She said the organisation had been “defensive” during the first inquest into her son’s death in February 2020, which was aborted after the coroner ruled the Scouts had failed to provide the court with full information and “created a misleading impression”.

A second inquest was also abandoned for legal reasons.

On the third day of the third inquest into Ben’s death, Craig Jones, at time of the incident the acting district commissioner for Stockport District Scout Council, was called to give evidence.

He said in a statement to North Wales Police he had been “lied” to over who was on the trip to North Wales in August 2018.

Earlier, the inquest heard Explorer Scout leader Sean Glaister had believed another man, Brian Garraway, group Scout leader, was also going on the trip – only to discover he was not present when he got to their campsite in Snowdonia after Ben’s fall.

Mr Garraway’s absence meant no suitably qualified first aider was present for the trip – which broke Scout’s rules for expeditions.

Mr Jones said: “That to me was a shock. I expected to see Brian on the camp when I arrived.”

Sophie Cartwright KC, counsel to the inquest, asked the witness what his response had been if he had been told Mr Garraway, or an appropriately qualified first aider, was not present.

Mr Jones said: “That the trip could not have gone ahead. It’s a pre-requisite for any trip that there’s a first aider.”


Ms Cartwright continued: “This is very much the first lost opportunity to prevent the incident that occurred the following day.”

“Yes,” Mr Jones replied.

Ben and two friends had separated from the other Scouts and were not accompanied by any of the three Scout leaders on the trip when he fell from the cliff edge.

Despite an air ambulance being called, along with paramedics, the teenager suffered massive head injuries and died the same day.

The inquest, scheduled to take four weeks, continues.

North Wales Pioneer | Llandudno