Falling mantlepiece killed four-year-old boy

The parents of a four-year-old boy who died after a mantlepiece fell on him said it was an accident which shouldn't have happened.

A lack of mortar fixing the mantelpiece to a fireplace contributed to the death of Matthew Green when it collapsed on top of him.

An inquest jury ruled yesterday that Matthew died from severe chest injuries after the 110lb stone lintel fell on him at his home in Towcester in October 2005.

Recording a narrative verdict, the jury at his inquest at Rushden & Diamonds Football Club said that Matthew died of cardiac injury caused by blunt chest trauma.

Speaking after the inquest, Matthew's mother Gail Green, accompanied by her husband David, said: "Matthew was a lovely boy, full of life, laughter and happiness. He was enjoying having just started school, where he had made lots of friends.

"He would wake up every morning with a smile on his face, looking forward to the excitement of a new day.

"This tragic incident has devastated our whole family and has been particularly traumatic for David, myself and Matthew's sister Rachel.

"We have waited over three years for this inquest since Matthew's tragic death. This is an accident which should never have happened.

"You always think that your children are safe in their own home."

The verdict was that Matthew died as a result of the stone mantelpiece impacting on his chest.

It stated: "The mantelpiece became detached from the headstone as a result of a failure to apply a sufficient amount of approximately mixed mortar or additional fixings.

"The lack of national industry standards and regulation for the fitting of fire surrounds, including training, installation, quality inspection, secondary review and audit paper trails, were also a contributory factor."

The four-day inquest heard that Matthew's parents bought the house from Persimmon Homes in 2003 but had never had any concerns about the safety of the fireplace.

On the day of the tragedy, Matthew was at home with his 38-year-old father and sister Rachel, now 15, while his mother was out shopping trip.

Matthew and Mr Green greeted family friends Alan and Karen Brugnoli at the front door before the youngster ran off into the lounge.

His father described hearing a "loud crash" from the living room.

The group ran into the lounge to find Matthew lying under the stone mantel, which had broken in two and crushed him. Matthew was taken to Northampton General Hospital by air ambulance and died later.