Player's injury missed, inquest told


IF MODERN concussion guidelines had been applied before a schoolboy rugby player’s death he would be alive today, his mother has told his inquest.

Benjamin Robinson (14) collapsed on the field in Carrickfergus, Co Antrim, in January last year and died from head injures.

He was checked for concussion several times during the game but his mother Karen Walton told the match referee that the methods used were “antiquated”.

“If the Pocket Scat guide had been applied, Ben would still be here,” she said.

The International Rugby Board guide (Pocket SCAT2) for detecting symptoms of concussion and recommending simple tests was updated following Benjamin’s death and was recently drawn to referee David Brown’s attention.

Mrs Walton said: “You did not have knowledge of this guide that I can download and I can read, and I can stand at every school on a Saturday morning and give it out to every player.”

According to his coach, Neal Kennedy, Benjamin was able to answer a series of questions testing mental function, including telling the Carrickfergus Grammar School teacher where he was, before his final collapse.

The Belfast inquest has been adjourned to allow a new investigating officer to seek more witnesses willing to make statements.

Benjamin’s mother yesterday cross-examined referee Mr Brown about the game – during which her son was involved in a series of heavy tackles.

She asked him: “Is it possible that my son’s concussion has been missed because of the antiquated methods applied?”

Mr Brown testified he could not say for sure if concussion had been missed. He was only given the revised pocket guide listing symptoms of the condition a few weeks ago, although an earlier version of it had been available for several years.

Mrs Walton has argued that her son should have been taken off at half-time following a heavy challenge. But one medical witness has said it is impossible to tell if he was concussed before he collapsed and another said he was only sure towards the end of the game when Mrs Walton shouted across to her son in concern because he appeared to be ailing and confused.

The finger test of waving a digit in front of a player to check if he could follow it with his eyes was applied several times by coach Mr Kennedy to Benjamin, but another medical witness said that would reveal only very severe cases of concussion and it is not recommended by the latest guidance.

It may also be possible for players to mask symptoms because of the desire to stay on the pitch.

State pathologist Jack Crane has said Robinson died from Second Impact Syndrome, which causes swelling of the brain.