Teen Accidentally Hanged Himself Preparing For School Play

14/08/2014 16:59 | Updated 20 May 2015

Paul Bagnall

A teenage schoolboy accidentally killed himself while trying to re-enact a Tudor hanging for a play.

Sixth former Paul Bagnall, 18, was looking for a costume to wear for an upcoming school play in his parent's loft when the tragedy happened at home in Orpington, Kent.

He was discovered by his mum Sandrine when she returned home at 4pm on January 7.

Horrifyingly, she initially thought her son's body was a dummy placed there as a joke.

Paul, a prefect at Darrick Wood school in Orpington, was wearing tights, a white ruffled shirt and a belt.

Mrs Bagnall, 44, told the inquest into his death: "I thought it was actually a dummy hanging there and not Paul because it looked smaller than him. Then I realised there had been an accident.

"He had no problems, lots of friends and was looking forward to going to university. He was the sweetest, nicest boy.

"We think he had tried to stage a Tudor hanging. The combination of tights and a laminate floor could have caused him to slip. He wasn't a dare devil but he took risks if he thought he was being careful."

In her statement read out at the inquest in Croydon, she said Paul had recently been on a trip to the Hampton Court archives and that his banker father Nick had been telling him about ancient Tudor rituals.

She said: "Nick told Paul that in Tudor times they used to tie prisoners up by their necks with chains.

"Paul had said he needed a costume to act in a play at a fancy dress party at the end of his school ski trip in February.

"He was studying Tudor history for his A Levels which explains how he was dressed when he was found.

"We had a dressing up box in the loft and Paul and his sister Lauren regularly used to dress up in the school holidays in different costumes and accessories on the spur of the moment."

There was a step ladder next to him but his mother said he often used it so he could look in the mirror when he had costumes on.

She said: "It was not unusual for him to do that. Paul used to check his costume in the wardrobe mirror which would explain where he was facing when he died. I've no idea how long he was up there."

Mrs Bagnall said she tried to get Paul down and called paramedics. But he was pronounced dead 45 minutes later.

The inquest heard the teenager had sat an exam earlier that day but was not being bullied or under any stress.

The cause of death was given as hanging. South London coroner Dr Roy Palmer said there were no drugs or alcohol found in Paul's body when he died.

Recording a verdict of accidental death, he said: "I'm satisfied on the balance of probabilities that Paul was in the loft searching around in the dressing up box and looking at himself in the mirror when he somehow slipped and gave in to an untimely death.

"I'm so very sorry it happened and that you lost your son so tragically."


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