Girl died after British bulldog game at Twickenham school

An eight-year-old girl suffered a fatal liver injury when a boy playing British bulldog ran into her at a south-west London school, an inquest has heard.

Freya James fell on to a recycled wooden railway sleeper in the playground at Trafalgar Junior School, in Twickenham, on 14 February.

She suffered a liver laceration which caused internal bleeding.

Freya died within three hours of the collision, West London Coroner's Court heard.

She had been playing a different game when the boy ran into her while chasing another child.

The impact caused her to fall - stomach and hand down - on one of the railway sleepers in the playground.

The boy said he was trying to avoid a collision with another child when Freya was struck.

'No malice'

Coroner Jeremy Chipperfield said: "There were a number of items of play equipment, furniture such as chairs, and some recycled railway sleepers. A number of staff supervise lunch play.

British bulldog

While there are many variations, the game generally involves one person - the bulldog - trying to prevent runners from getting past them to the other side of the playground.

The runners try to get to the "home" area of the other side of the playground without being caught.

Once caught, held or "tagged", the runner becomes a bulldog and the winner is the last runner left.

"At about 1.15pm, there was a collision between a boy who was playing bulldog, and Freya.

"As a result, she fell, and in falling struck one of the sleepers that was in the playground."

Freya walked to a room to be given first aid before a paramedic and an ambulance arrived. She said she had "hurt her tummy".

She was given oxygen and taken to West Middlesex University Hospital within an hour of the accident, but she died just before 16:00 that afternoon.

A post-mortem examination showed injuries consistent with blunt force trauma.

Mr Chipperfield added: "The conclusion was there was a liver laceration which caused internal bleeding and that resulted in Freya's death."

Pathologist Dr Andreas Marnerides, of St Thomas's Hospital, who carried out the post-mortem examination, said the injuries were consistent with falling on the sleeper but added she could have suffered "the same type of trauma" if she had fallen flat on the ground.

When asked if such incidents were common in playgrounds, Dr Marnerides said: "I'm not aware of the exact statistical numbers, but I've seen it before."

Det Insp Andrew Dunn said the boy told police: "He was chasing a specific other boy, he was running at speed through the playground.

"He swerved to avoid a collision with one other child, and ran into a young girl who he later believed to be Freya.

"I have found no evidence of malice or criminal intent, and haven't submitted a file to the Crown Prosecution Service."

The inquest continues.

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