Leonie Nice died of heart condition during PE lesson

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A 12-year-old girl died from an undiagnosed heart condition after being struck by a rugby ball, an inquest heard.

Leonie Nice collapsed during a playground PE lesson at Woodlands School in Basildon on 13 March.

But the inquest, in Chelmsford, heard the rugby ball strike to her chest was likely to have been only "coincidental" in the cause of death.

A verdict of death by natural causes was recorded.

Leonie, from Basildon, complained of feeling "dizzy" after the ball hit her during the lesson.

Efforts were made at the school to resuscitate her but she was declared dead a short time later at hospital.

'Loved little girl'

Pathologist Dr Nat Carey told the inquest he believed Leonie's death and the strike from a rugby ball had been "coincidental".

He said the cause of death was a degenerative condition in which Leonie's heart muscles were slowly replaced by fatty tissue.

"With that condition you are vulnerable to heart rhythm disturbance," said Dr Carey.

"You're vulnerable to sudden death at any time."

He said although the ball striking her might have been a "shock", he found "no significant external trauma" as a result.

Essex and Thurrock Coroner Caroline Beasley-Murray said: "She (Leonie) clearly was a much loved little girl with a bright future ahead of her."

Addressing Leonie's family, Mrs Beasley-Murray said: "I hope you will be able to treasure all the positive memories of her."

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