No postmortem ever carried on boy who fell ill at Halloween party

Rasharn Williams

Rasharn Williams - Credit: Archant

A young boy’s cause of death will never be known after a “communication mix up” meant a post-mortem was never carried out after he fell ill at a school Halloween party and died.

It emerged during his inquest that nine-year old Rasharn Williams, who was born with a hole in his heart, may have been punched by another child, before he fell unwell and died on October 23 at Berger School.

His best friend claims another boy was picking on him and punched him in the chest causing him to fall over.

Evidence submitted by Laura Allen, a temporary member of staff who no longer works at the school, described how Rasharn presented in “an unusual state” with breathing problems, staring straight ahead with glazed eyes.

She claims she repeatedly asked whether to call an ambulance, suspecting he was having a seizure, but was told not to by other members of staff.

According to Ms Allen 26 minutes lapsed until paramedics were called to the school in Anderson Road, Homerton.

A few minutes after they arrived he had a cardiac arrest and was rapidly transferred to the Homerton Hospital three minutes away where he died an hour-and-a-half later.

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Rasharn’s death certificate states his death was “expected” because of his life limiting illness.

But Ian Sullivan, his consultant paediatrician cardiologist at Great Ormond Street, told Poplar Coroner’s Court that although Rasharn had a life-limiting condition and was not expected to live until adulthood, they had not expected a “sudden and abrupt end” to his life in October.

When asked if he could suggest why Rasharn deteriorated more rapidly, he replied: “The blood flow to the lungs is dependent on a stent, we would have expected gradual deterioration.” He added however that a blow to the chest was “most unlikely to be fatal or instigate the sequence of events”.

But the exact medical cause of Rasharn’s death will never be known because a post-mortem investigation was never carried out because of a communication mix-up between the paediatrician at the Homerton and the Coroner’s office.

Andrew Sawczenko, consultant paediatrician at Homerton Hospital, told the court he believed a post-mortem should have been carried out. But the coroner’s office claims they were not told this at the time.

“We understood the cause of death but not the trigger,” said Mr Sawczenko.

“There are other possible scenarios [why he could have had the seizure] which are very unlikely.”

The inquest continues.