Inquest Rules: Boy, Christopher Kapessa, Died Due to Dangerous Prank at River


A 13-year-old boy, Christopher Kapessa, tragically lost his life after being intentionally pushed into the River Cynon in a “dangerous prank,” according to a coroner’s ruling. The incident occurred near Fernhill, Rhondda Cynon Taf, in July 2019. Coroner David Regan dismissed the testimony of Jayden Pugh, who claimed he accidentally fell into Christopher, labeling it as “untrue.”

Christopher’s mother, Alina Joseph, expressed her dissatisfaction with the coroner’s conclusion, stating that she believed the act was intentional and not a prank. She also voiced her belief that her family had suffered an injustice, which she said still haunts her.

Mr. Regan concluded that there was no evidence to suggest that Christopher’s death was racially motivated, despite claims made by a campaign group. He also stated that there was no evidence of hostility between the children involved, all of whom referred to Christopher as a friend.

Christopher’s mother later stated that she felt victimized by the “institutional racist practices of South Wales Police,” accusing them of closing their investigation within 24 hours and failing to investigate allegations of racism suffered by Christopher and his family.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) upheld one complaint regarding a meeting between Christopher’s family and South Wales Police, which ended in disagreement over concerns of potential racism by the force. The IOPC deemed a police officer’s approach during the meeting as ill-judged and insensitive but did not recommend disciplinary action. Instead, they suggested additional training for the officer on dealing with bereaved families, equality, diversity, and unconscious bias.

Four witnesses testified at the inquest that Mr. Pugh, then aged 14, had deliberately pushed Christopher into the water. The coroner also noted that there was no clear understanding of Christopher’s swimming abilities among his friends before the incident. Christopher fell 2.5m (8ft) from a ledge into the river and likely suffered from cold water shock, leading to involuntary water ingestion. Despite attempts by other children, including Mr. Pugh, to rescue him, Christopher disappeared beneath the surface and was recovered almost two hours later, only to be declared dead at Prince Charles Hospital in Merthyr Tydfil.

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