Southwark Coroner Andrew Harris has ended the inquest into the death of Ruben Bousquet, a 14-year-old boy who died after suffering an allergic reaction at a cinema.
The Anaphylaxis Campaign would like to extend our deepest condolences to the family of Ruben, who died after eating popcorn with a drink at an Odeon Cinema in London with his parents on April 18 2019. Ruben was known to have severe food allergies including cow’s milk, raw egg and soya.
During the inquest, representatives from Odeon Cinemas, the Food Standards Agency, the London Ambulance Service and Royal London Borough of Greenwich gave evidence. The coroner stated that the popcorn Ruben had eaten was contaminated with milk but could not determine whether the contamination occurred during the production process or at the point of sale. This was partly because appropriate food testing was not carried out and partly because the level of milk protein thought to trigger Ruben’s reaction was close to the limits of detection.
Ruben had left his emergency adrenaline auto-injectors at home and had to be taken home to receive treatment.
The Coroner is to make a decision later this month on whether to issue a prevention of future deaths report.
The Anaphylaxis Campaign would like to reinforce the following advice;
- Always carry two adrenaline auto-injectors with you at all times.
- Ensure you have registered the expiry date of your devices on the relevant manufacturers’ websites to give you ample warning when a new prescription is required.
- Ensure you gain a replacement device prior to disposing of any out of date devices.
- Always make sure you have a trainer device which can be ordered from the manufacturer’s websites for free:Emerade Trainer (Please note that Emerade auto-injectors are currently unavailable)EpiPen TrainerJext Trainer
Make sure that your family and friends are familiar with the device you have and how to use it. If you experience symptoms of anaphylaxis, administer an adrenaline pen without delay, even if you are not sure whether it is anaphylaxis. Early administration is vital.
In an emergency call 999, ask for an ambulance and say anaphylaxis (pronounced as ‘anna-fill-axis’).
The role of the coroner and purpose of an inquest
We wish to make it clear that the Anaphylaxis Campaign are not legal experts.
A coroner is appointed by a local authority and investigates deaths reported to them to find out who has died and how, when, and where they died. An inquest is a public court hearing held by the coroner to discover the facts about the circumstances of someone’s death. There are a very limited number of specific legal terms used to record cause of death. The coroner decides who should be called to give evidence as a witness. If a witness lives in England or Wales, they must attend if they are asked; if they live abroad, they do not have to attend.
An inquest is different from other types of court hearing because there is no prosecution or defence. The purpose of an inquest is to establish the relevant facts and cannot blame someone for someone’s death. The coroner or jury cannot find a person or organisation criminally responsible for someone’s death. For legal reasons, therefore, we cannot comment on certain aspects of any inquest. The Ministry of Justice has produced a booklet called a ‘Guide to Coroner Services’ and if you are interested in the coronial process, you may find it helpful to read: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guide-to-coroner-services-and-coroner-investigations-a-short-guide.
If you have any further questions, please contact the Helpline on 01252 542029 or email [email protected]