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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Boy,13, killed after attempting new Net craze

By Andrew Levy

A coroner has issued a warning to parents about a dangerous Internet craze called the "choking game" after a young boy died by hanging himself.

Harry Robinson, 13, had been enjoying an unexpected day off school due to snow earlier this year when his younger brother found him suspended from a shower rail by a dressing gown cord.

Charlie Robinson, 11, managed to cut him down but Harry was later pronounced dead in hospital.

An investigation later revealed children at the teenager's school had been playing risk-taking games and an urgent letter was sent to parents.

The fad involves children filming themselves throttling themselves with a variety of props to achieve a "high" and posting the results online. Sometimes they are with friends but often they are alone.

Essex and Thurrock coroner Caroline Beasley-Murray recorded a verdict of accidental death yesterday, saying: "There's sufficient evidence before me to believe it was highly likely Harry was experimenting with the choking game and it's gone terribly wrong.

"There's clearly national concern about this practice. It's an extremely dangerous practice that children are engaging in - to say they are dicing with death is an understatement.

"None of these children intend to kill themselves - there is no evidence Harry wanted to kill himself.

"We need to educate them about the risk they are taking. We need to educate parents in what to look out for - the tell-tale signs.

"The family wish to publicise these dangers so no other family has to go through what they have been through."

Air Training Corps cadet Harry was a pupil at Notley High School in Braintree, Essex, where X-Factor star Olly Murs was a pupil, but it was closed on January 7 due to the weather.

Instead, he remained at home in Terling, near Chelmsford, with Charlie. Their mother Amanda Keable, who also has a daughter, Rhianna, 15, was out at the time.

A coroner's officer told Chelmsford Coroners Court: "Harry went to the toilet and a short time later his brother found the door was locked. He phoned his mother and told her that.

"His brother managed to open the door and found Harry hanging from his neck from the shower curtain rail with a towelling dressing gown belt.

"His brother cut him down and Harry hit his head on the bath. The brother went for a neighbour."

An ambulance was called at about 7pm and the teenager was taken to Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford but it was too late to save him.

Mrs Beasley-Murray said Harry's death must have been a "tragic accident", explaining: "Clearly it had been a very happy day. He had been playing in the snow."

Miss Keable was too upset to talk after the hearing and her estranged husband Simon Robinson, 44, was not present.

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