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Scout leader waved to boy before fatal fall - inquest

Ben Leonard
Ben Leonard was on a scouts trip when he fell from a cliff edge

A Scout leader has told an inquest she "waved" to a teenager shortly before he fell to his death.

Ben Leonard, 16, fell 200ft (61m) from the Great Orme in Llandudno on a Reddish Explorer Scouts trip in August 2018.

The hearing was told that Ben and two friends had become separated from the group when the incident happened.

The Scout Association previously told the inquest it accepted responsibility for Ben's death.

Mary Carr, one of three leaders on the weekend trip to north Wales, told the inquest in Manchester that she saw Ben along with two other boys on a grassy area above the path.

She said she waved at the boys and "didn't have any concern".

"The wave was just an acknowledgement, pretty casual - they'd seen us... [there] didn't appear to be any problems," Ms Carr said.

"I didn't have any more concern about them and where they were than I would the 18-year-olds, despite the fact they were a year or two younger."

She said she was aware there were cliffs on the Great Orme, but said the boys had not been near any when she spotted them.

"It didn't enter my mind that they would go towards the cliffs," said Ms Carr.

She said knowing their "ages, experience and capabilities", she had not considered it a "high or even a slim possibility" that they would go near the edge and "didn't feel the need to tell them".

Ms Carr added that she was "happy if they caught us up" and had assumed that Gareth Williams, another outing leader who was further behind, would "sweep them up".

She also spoke of the moment Chris Gilbert, one of the boys with Ben, made a phone call to one of the young people walking with her to ask what the plan was.

Great Orme in Llandudno
Ben and two friends took an alternative path during an outing to the Great Orme

Ms Carr said she had relayed a message that the plan was to "head back down" and "meet at the tent on the prom".

Inquest barrister Sophie Cartwight said: "It was an opportunity to give meaningful instructions, or find out information, so why didn't you ask where they were or if Gareth Williams was with them?"

Ms Carr replied that she was not "panicking or worried" and "had thought they would be more than able to find their way to the meeting point".

She said she did not recall saying it was okay for the three to "wander about for a bit".

Bernard Richmond KC, the lawyer representing Ben's family, asked Ms Carr if she accepted a child had died under her care, to which she replied "yes".

"In hindsight I would have made different decisions to prevent his death. But knowing what I knew at the time… I don't think I failed in my responsibilities," she said.

She added that it was "not reasonable for me or anyone else in the group" to anticipate the boys would have gone so near to the cliff edge.

'I was aware of hazards and risks'

Ms Carr went on to explain there was no formal written risk assessment for the day but said she "wouldn't agree" that there was a general lack of a awareness.

"I was aware of hazards and risks," she said.

"There were no high risks that required me to give any other instruction."

She said she agreed with a statement she had made previously, in which she said she felt failed by the Scout Association at county level and that "paperwork and policies were not communicated".

The inquest continues.