Death should never happen again: Napier school principal

By Annette Hilton -
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DELIBERATING: Coroner Tim Scott at the inquest for Taradale Primary School student Aryan Banerjee. Photo Warren Buckland
DELIBERATING: Coroner Tim Scott at the inquest for Taradale Primary School student Aryan Banerjee. Photo Warren Buckland

The principal of a Napier school where a young boy was accidentally strangled on a toilet window has told a coroner's hearing that it should never happen again.

Nine-year-old Aryan Banerjee died from critical head injuries in September last year.

He was strangled at Taradale Primary School, after he climbed out a toilet window when the door jammed.

The court heard that the handle had been taken off and was left on the ground in front of the toilet while it was repaired.

The school caretaker said the door was not taped off to stop children from using the toilet because it should have been a quick fix. However, he admitted he never had to take off door handles before.

The caretaker said he did not want to leave the repairs until after-school as he was focused on getting it done as quickly as possible.

Principal Marty Hantz said he had since told the caretaker he must use barriers to stop children using toilets, so this never happens again.

The Banerjee family lawyer, Nigel Hampton QC, questioned Mr Hantz over why the caretaker didn't tell the teacher that children shouldn't use the toilet.

Mr Hantz said it wasn't acceptable that the caretaker didn't warn anyone about the door.

Mr Hantz told Coroner Tim Scott that his own 9-year-old daughter got trapped in a school toilet.

Mr Hantz said she panicked and cried, and a teacher heard her screams and let her out.

Aryan's teacher gave evidence at the hearing, saying his death had changed the way she taught.

She said she had since become a lot more anxious around children.

Coroner Tim Scott told school staff members giving evidence that he had concerns that some of the toilets still had full-length doors and the same locking mechanism as the one involved in the incident.

Mr Scott said one of the first things that should have been done was to change the door configuration, but more than a year later it had not been changed.

He told the hearing that the lawyers involved should receive a draft copy of his decision next week.

The final report should be made public before Christmas.

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