A SEVEN-YEAR-OLD boy was run over by a minibus after falling while closing the sliding passenger door, an inquest found.

Samuel Barker suffered “catastrophic head injuries” as a result of the incident outside his home on Hereford Road near Monmouth on January 13, 2020, and was pronounced dead at the scene.

An inquest jury concluded that he died from “catastrophic head injuries” after he fell in close proximity to the minibus closing the sliding door.

The inquest heard that guidance from Monmouthshire County Council, who contracted CDS Hire for the Osbaston Church in Wales School run, specified the driver must get out to operate the doors, while children should only do this in case of emergency.

In this case, Samuel's brother opened the sliding door, with Samuel closing it behind him.

On the second day of the inquest, the jury heard a statement from Maria Baldwin, who was a desk operator at CDS Hire.

She said she compiled the information packs given to drivers, containing the Monmouthshire council rule book, and “did read through the rules for drivers and the rules for parents” – relating to drivers not dropping off children unless their parent or guardian was present.

Heather Heaney, lead officer for safeguarding in education for Monmouthshire council, told the jury that she led the council’s mandated training for drivers which Mr Bevan attended.

She said attendees were shown a slideshow, with one slide setting out that drivers must make sure they were familiar with the rule book – and drivers were provided with a hard copy of this.

Mr Bevan, in a statement read out on the first day of the inquest, said: “I was never made aware of [the rule book] from Monmouthshire or CDS.”

The court heard that the Health and Safety Executive issued Monmouthshire council with an improvement notice following Samuel’s death, requiring them to rethink how the council monitored operators which had been awarded council transport contracts.

Deborah Hill-Howells, from the council, told the court the department had been restructured in the wake of this.

“We had officers that had discrete roles that weren’t shared, so if someone wasn’t in the office, there was a risk that their job wouldn’t get done,” she said. These were replaced by three standardised roles with overlapping remits, and these officers would use a standardised check sheet for monitoring transport operators while attending schools and monitoring drivers on their routes.

Samuel’s cause of death was recorded as 1A: Catastrophic blunt force head injury.

The jury concluded: “Samuel died by falling under the rear wheels of a minibus on January 13, 2020, on Hereford Road, Monmouthshire, resulting in catastrophic head injuries.

“Samuel died because he was in close proximity of a slowly moving vehicle under which he was trapped after falling when operating the doors”

“I would like to place on record my condolences to the family in what must have been and continues to be a horrendous ordeal,” assistant coroner for Gwent Sarah Le Fevre added.