12-year-old strangled in 'tragic accident'

A PROMISING 12-year-old from Sawtry strangled himself with a karate belt in a tragic accident, the Cambridgeshire Coroner decided. Immediately before the accident on September 3, Alexander Gale had been chatting to school friends on his laptop computer

A PROMISING 12-year-old from Sawtry strangled himself with a karate belt in a tragic accident, the Cambridgeshire Coroner decided.

Immediately before the accident on September 3, Alexander Gale had been "chatting" to school friends on his laptop computer and designing a fantasy football website, an inquest in Huntingdon heard on Thursday.

His elder brother, Ben, found Alex hanging from a bunk bedpost in his room at the family home in Beaumaris Road. A neighbour tried to resuscitate the boy until paramedics arrived, but he died of asphyxia in Peterborough District Hospital a short time later, Coroner David Morris said.

Det Insp Richard Ryan said Alex's computer had Microsoft Network open: he had been chatting to friends and obviously took great pleasure from designing his fantasy website.


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The officer said he had found a number of karate belts - the sport was one of the boy's leisure pursuits - in the room. One was in a ligature round his neck, with the other end caught on a pillar of the bunk bed. "It was not what I would have expected to find in a case of deliberate hanging. He was not being bullied, and it was clear he was in a loving and well-cared for family."

DI Ryan confirmed that there was nothing in the room or on the computer that could have been taken as a suicide note, nor had he accessed "sinister websites".

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Matthew Binden, head of Year 8 at Sawtry Community College in a statement to the Coroner described a pupil who was "classed as gifted and talented in maths, good at sport and karate - a popular lad who was liked by all the children". He was also good at science and "always one step ahead of the game".

Mr Morris read from Alex's last school report in July, which described him as well-mannered and mature. "In terms of effort, attendance and behaviour, he should be congratulated on achieving grades from good to excellent. He has performed particularly well in maths and science, and has been an enthusiastic participant in many extra-curricular activities."

Recording a verdict that Alex died as the result of a tragic accident, Mr Morris told his father, Andrew, a training manager, and mother Ulrike, a school worker, that Alex had been "his usual cheerful self" immediately before the tragedy happened.

"It sounds as though he was a great chap, and I'm particularly sorry for you," he told Ben. "Remember the good times," he counselled the family. "He sounds like a fun lad. Remember what a great son and brother he was.

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