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Michael Sousa: Teacher 'told boy to stop playing on school bannister', just hours before he fell

A school teacher has been telling an inquest how he discovered one of the pupils lying at the bottom of the stairs after falling from a bannister.

Jamie Turner, head of house at the Jane Austen College in Norwich, was giving evidence into the death of Michael Sousa.

He fell the day after his 12th birthday and died just over a week later in Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge.

Mr Turner told coroner Jacqueline Lake he'd seen Michael on the bannisters earlier that day and had told him to get off and walk down the stairs.

"He did that reluctantly. He wasn't very happy that I told him to do that," he said.

Jamie Turner (left) said he told Michael Sousa to stop playing on the bannisters. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Later on, Mr Turner was in his classroom when students came in and told him someone had fallen.

The opening evidence came from Rebecca Handley Kirk, who was the acting principal at the time of Michael's death. She was standing in while the principal was on maternity leave.

She talked about the policies in place for ensuring good behaviour. She said staff monitored that behaviour and would carry out a sweep of the corridors and stairs on the three floors to make sure pupils returned to classes after breaks.

Rebecca Handley Kirk was acting principal at the time but has since left the school. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Mrs Handley told the coroner there were a number of incidents recorded on Michael Sousa's behavour log but none referred to playing on the bannisters.

She said students were told when they first arrived at he school that they shouldn't use the bannisters and were further reminded at assemblies and in class.

She hadn't realised that during a police investigation into Michael's death there had been claims of other children at the school using the bannisters.

She described Michael as "a lovely young boy who had lots of friends. A very energetic boy who liked to tell jokes".

Mrs Handley Kirk said she was no longer at the college, so couldn't say if there had been any changes to policy following Michael's death.

Michael Sousa died shortly after his 12th birthday. Credit: Sousa family

A statement was also read from Pete Bloomfield, the current acting principal at the college.

He said he was walking up the stairs and was aware of an object passing him. It was only when he heard a colleague shout in a distressed state that he realised it had been Michael falling.

Meanwhile, Detective Sergeant Peter Wison said they interviewed about 16 children, with three giving key evidence.

Overall, the general impression was that Michael had been leaning over the bannister to slide down to the next level and toppled. His heavy rucksack could have unbalanced him.

Sgt Wilson said Michael was described as a fun boy who could be naughty and had slid down the bannisters before.

"The conclusion was that this was a terrible accident which wasn't the fault of any pupil and safety measures that should and would have been put in place by the school were adequate."

A statement from a consultant paediatrician at Addenbrooke's revealed Michael had fallen about 20 feet. The cause of death was severe traumatic head injury.

Coroner's Jacqueline Lake's conclusion was that Michael Sousa's death was due to 'misadventure'.