Budding astronomer, 14, fell to his death from tower block balcony 'trying to look at stars', inquest hears

4 August 2022, 14:36

Marcel Bruchal fell from the seventh floor of Sleaford House in March
Marcel Bruchal fell from the seventh floor of Sleaford House in March. Picture: Karolina Bruchal/Google Maps

By Daisy Stephens

A 14-year-old boy who fell to his death from a seventh-floor balcony in London may have fallen "trying to look at the stars", an inquest has been told.

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Marcel Bruchal was at his grandparents' flat in Bow, west London, on March 19 when he fell from the balcony just after 9pm.

Paramedics arrived around 20 minutes later but Marcel was already suffering a cardiac arrest, and he died half an hour later at The Royal London Hospital.

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A statement read out at Poplar Coroner's court from his grandmother Iwona Wozniak revealed the family believe Marcel, who "loved astronomy", fell while looking at the stars.

"That evening was a very starry night and there was a comet going past," she said.

"Maybe he lent out to have a look."

She added: "We know for sure Marcel did not plan it."

Marcel's death was ruled an accident
Marcel's death was ruled an accident. Picture: Karolina Bruchal

Ms Wozniak said Marcel was "very excited" to stay with his grandparents for the first time in a year after they refurbished their flat.

On Saturday March 19, after playing table tennis for two hours, Marcel went out onto the balcony and a family member said Marcel was "looking down" and "looking at it in a weird way".

Ms Wozniak then went to Tesco with her grandson and said he was "joined at my hip", something she said she thought was "weird at the time".

But Marcel's mother told her it was normal for him to be "clingy" and they returned to the flat, at which point Marcel watched TV and then suggested doing karaoke after they had eaten.

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Ms Wozniak opened the balcony door, at which point Marcel went outside as Ms Wozniak's husband Chris asked what flavour ice cream he wanted.

But then Ms Wozniak described how she heard cries from another family member on the balcony, shouting "Marcel no, Marcel no, Marcel why?".

The family member took Ms Wozniak by the hand and led her onto the balcony.

"I saw two people and a car," she said in the statement.

"Then I saw someone laying there.

"My sight is not good but then I recognised Marcel's top.

"I was shouting 'Chris, Chris' and then 'Jesus Christ'."

Marcel fell from the seventh floor of Sleaford House
Marcel fell from the seventh floor of Sleaford House. Picture: Google Maps

Ms Wozniak said Marcel had been bullied at school but that she was not aware of "mental health issues", maintaining he fell trying to look at the stars.

Her husband Chris also said he did not believe Marcel had jumped deliberately, saying he was "relaxed" just before the incident.

A family member said Marcel often went "on his tiptoes using his hands to grab himself up to get a better view", and said he had gone onto the balcony "three to four times".

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Detectives said they found no evidence of suicide, saying there were no messages on his phone suggesting he was being bullied.

The acting principle of his school, Oasis Academy, said he was "well liked, respected, and appeared happy".

She said the bullying incident was dealt with promptly.

Concluding the hearing, Coroner Mary Hassell said the "most obvious conclusion to draw is that Marcel killed himself", but said she was "not satisfied that Marcel got up onto the balcony in order to take his own life".

"All the evidence I have heard is that he was a very happy child," she said.

Ms Hassell said he "obviously developed an interest in getting up on balconies" and maybe his "love of astronomy" could have led him to look at the stars.

"The likelihood is that he fell from the balcony and that this was an accident fall," she concluded.