‘Loving, caring’ boy, 13, died after being deliberately pushed into river in 'prank' in South Wales, coroner says

22 January 2024, 13:30

Christopher Kapessa, 13, died after being pushed into the River Cynon in the village of Fernhill, south Wales, in summer 2019
Christopher Kapessa, 13, died after being pushed into the River Cynon in the village of Fernhill, south Wales, in summer 2019. Picture: Family handout

By Asher McShane

A “loving, caring” 13-year-old boy died after being deliberately pushed into a river in south Wales in July 2019, a coroner has found in a narrative conclusion.

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Assistant Coroner David Regan gave the finding on Monday afternoon at the inquest into the death of Christopher Kapessa following a two-week hearing at South Wales Coroners' Court.

Christopher, described as "loving, caring, passionate and very protective" by his family, died after entering the River Cynon in Fernhill in Rhondda Cynon Taf, South Wales, on July 1 2019.

Four witnesses told the inquest in Pontypridd that another boy, then aged 14, had pushed Christopher from a ledge into the water after saying words to the effect of "shall I push him in".

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The boy, now aged 19 and who cannot be named for legal reasons, insisted to the inquest that he accidentally fell into Christopher, did not deliberately push him in and did not suggest doing so.

However, delivering his conclusions in the case Mr Regan said: "In my judgment, Christopher was deliberately pushed into the back from behind by (the boy) using his hands.

"(The boy's) actions deprived Christopher of the opportunity to decide whether or not to enter the water. I have no hesitation in finding that Christopher did not consent to being pushed into the river."

Christopher, who was not a confident swimmer according to his mother, began panicking and shouted for help.

Other children, including the boy alleged to have pushed him into the river, jumped in and tried to rescue him but Christopher disappeared below the surface at about 5.30pm.

The coroner said: "They acted very courageously in doing so.

"(The boy) pushed Christopher into the water in a misplaced sense of fun, namely as a prank."

Mr Regan described how Christopher fell 2.5 metres from the ledge into the river, into water that was 2.5 metres deep and had not been able to prepare for his entry.

Christopher's head became submerged, he is likely to have suffered from cold water shock which would have led to the involuntary ingestion of water, the coroner said.

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