A 10-year-old schoolboy accidentally hanged himself with a SCARF in his bedroom as a result of “childhood curiosity”, an inquest heard.
Tragic Alfie Hyett, was found unconscious by his devastated mother Louise Hembrow, 43, on the evening of March 9 last year.
The youngster was rushed to Hereford County Hospital but could not be revived despite the efforts of paramedics and doctors.
At the time mum Louise believed her son had taken part in the notorious “choking game”, where the brain is starved of oxygen to create an adrenaline rush.
But an inquest heard that officers investigating the possible link with the craze discovered no evidence that Alfie had knowledge of it.
On Monday (8/1) a coroner ruled Alfie had took his own life but that he had not intended to do so.
The hearing at Hereford Town Hall was told the schoolboy may have accidentally hanged himself and could have watched himself die in the mirror.
Assistant Deputy Coroner for Herefordshire Mark Bricknell said: “I do not think he would have intended to take his own life or cause himself serious harm.
“I think that this was an act of childhood curiosity or experimentation or absentmindedness.”
He added that Alfie would not have understood the risks involved and he believed the outcome was a “complete accident”.
The inquest heard that Alfie was a “very happy” schoolboy with plenty to look forward to.
His parents had split up some years previously but Alfie did not seem to suffer adversely from this.
Giving evidence, Louise said that on the day of his death and in the days before, there was nothing unusual or strange about his behaviour.
He appeared “as jolly as ever” after school that day and had prepared a packed lunch for the following day and made his mum a cup of tea.
But when Alfie did not respond to her calls later that evening, she entered his room where she found his lifeless body.
She performed CPR and an ambulance was called which took him to hospital.
She said: “He was a very happy boy.
“I really have no idea what happened and no explanation for it at all.”
Dr Keith McCarthy, a pathologist at Hereford County Hospital, conducted a post-mortem examination on March 15.
He concluded that Alfie died of vagal inhibition, secondary to self-inflicted hanging.
Vagal inhibition causes sudden death within seconds or a minute or two due to minor trauma or relatively harmless stimulation of the vagus nerve.
Katie Steiner, Alfie’s teacher at St Thomas Cantilupe School, described him as a “happy” boy who was often “funny” and “silly”.
She said that he was very well-loved by other children and was full of life, adding that he was not bullied and there had been nothing unusual about his behaviour that day.
Detective Sergeant Mark Jinks, of West Mercia Police, said he found no link to the “choking craze” Alfie’s mum had feared.
He added: “We investigated a possible link with the game and discovered no evidence that Alfie had knowledge of it or had been looking at it.
“The strongest scenario is that it was a deliberate act of self-suspension but without the intent to die.
“He strikes me as a curious boy.
“In his room a full-length mirror had been moved slightly so it’s possible he had been looking at himself in the mirror while doing it.”
Det Sgt Jinks said he could not conclude the parent’s separation was enough reason for Alfie to harm himself.
He added that it did not “sit comfortably” with him that a 10-year-old would intend to take their own life.
Verdict: Accidental death.