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Teenager drowned after being pushed into river, inquest told

09 Jan 2024 3 minute read
Christopher Kapessa. Photo issued by South Wales Police .

A teenager was seen by other children to push a 13-year-boy into the River Cynon shortly before he drowned, an inquest has heard.

Christopher Kapessa died after allegedly being pushed into the river near Fernhill in Rhondda Cynon Taff on July 1 2019.

Ledge

Witnesses have told the inquest that another boy, then aged 14, who cannot be named for legal reasons, pushed Christopher from a ledge into the water.

The schoolboy, who could not swim, immediately got into difficulty and other children jumped in to help but he could not be saved.

Isabella Watts, now aged 18, told South Wales Central Coroner’s Court in Pontypridd that Christopher had taken off his shoes, T-shirt and glasses and was standing at the edge, considering whether to jump.

Miss Watts said the boy who is accused of pushing Christopher into the water was standing behind him.

Tom Leeper, counsel to the inquest, asked Miss Watts: “How did Christopher end up in the water?”

She replied: “(The boy) pushed him.”

Mr Leeper asked: “When you say (the boy) pushed him, which part of his body?”

She replied: “(The boy’s) hand went on to Christopher’s back.”

Mr Leeper asked: “Which part of Christopher’s back did (the boy’s) hands go into?”

“The middle bit,” Miss Watts replied.

“He went into the water, and he was fine for about 30 seconds, and then he started going up and down and waving his arms.”

The court heard that other children at the scene jumped into the water to try to save Christopher, including the boy accused of pushing him in.

Conversation

David Hughes, representing the alleged pusher, suggested to Miss Watts that, prior to Christopher entering the water, her attention had been more focused on conversations with her friends than who was standing on the ledge.

“If I suggest to you (the boy) was in fact making his way towards the edge of the ledge in order to go in again, because you are just having the odd fleeting glance, you can’t really say that is wrong, can you?” he asked.

“No,” she replied.

“If I suggest to you that he actually called out to Christopher to say he was on his way, because you are concentrating on the conversation with your friends, again you can’t tell me that is wrong, can you?”

“No,” she replied.

“If I suggest to you that (the boy) stumbled or slipped, you couldn’t see where his feet were, could you?”

Miss Watts replied: “He didn’t stumble, he pushed him. He was standing still when he pushed him so it didn’t look like a stumble at all.”

On Monday, the inquest heard from one teenager who described seeing the boy push Christopher into the water with his hands.

“I had a clear view of what happened,” the 17-year-old said.

“Everybody for a few seconds didn’t know if he could swim or not and there wasn’t a panic, and when people realised he couldn’t swim people jumped in to try and help him.

“I think he was flailing and trying to keep himself above of the water.”

The hearing continues.


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