School admits failure over student’s death

Teenager Lachlan Cook died in 2019 after he contracted gastro on a school trip in Vietnam. Picture: Supplied via NewsWire
Teenager Lachlan Cook died in 2019 after he contracted gastro on a school trip in Vietnam. Picture: Supplied via NewsWire

A prestigious private Melbourne school has pleaded guilty to a criminal offence after a diabetic student fell ill while on a school trip to Vietnam.

Lachlan Cook, 16, was a few days into the school trip in September 2019 when he began vomiting and having stomach pains.

His condition deteriorated dramatically and he was rushed to a local hospital, but was flown back home after he fell into a coma.

Lachlan did not regain consciousness and died at the Royal Melbourne Hospital.

A coronial inquest last year found his cause of death was found to be severe diabetic ketoacidosis, a complication of type 1 diabetes, and preventable.

Lachlan died in 2019 after suffering diabetes complications while on a school trip. Picture: Facebook
Lachlan died in 2019 after suffering diabetes complications while on a school trip. Picture: Facebook

In April, Victoria’s workplace regulator, WorkSafe, laid a charge against Kilvington Grammar School over Lachlan’s death.

The case returned before the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, where lawyer Eliza Holt, acting for the school, said the matter had resolved and Kilvington Grammar would be pleading guilty.

Principal Rob French then rose to his feet, responding “guilty, Your Honour”, when asked by Magistrate Rosemary Falla.

The School pleaded guilty to a charge of failing to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable, that persons other than employees were not exposed to risks to their health and safety.

According to the particulars of the charge, Kilvington Grammar could have provided teachers attending the trip with additional training and knowledge of Lachlan’s management and actions plans, to reduce the risk of his illness or death.

SCHOOL TRIP DEATH
Lachlan’s mother, Kirsten McMahon, previously addressed the media to say the loss of her son was heartbreaking. Picture: Newswire / Liam Beatty

In a statement, Kilvington Grammar School principal Rob French confirmed the school had pleaded guilty to a breach of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

“As the matter is still before the courts, I am unable to comment further at this stage, other than to say my thoughts and prayers remain with Lachlie’s family and friends, who continue to mourn his tragic loss,” he said.

Kilvington Grammar School will next appear in the County Court for a presentence hearing on December 11.

The company that organised the trip, Wold Challenge Expeditions Pty Ltd, faces three charges of a similar nature.

In Court, they requested additional time to review the case and will return to court on September 20.