Bury St Edmunds choir-boy found with belt around neck may have been trying to improve voice

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A choir-boy found dead with a belt around his neck may have been trying to improve his voice, an inquest has heard.

Twelve-year-old Ranulph Edward Morgan-Gooch, known as Edward, was a pupil at St James Middle School in Bury St Edmunds and had been happy both at school and with his role in St Edmundsbury Cathedral’s choir, his inquest was told this week.

“This was a tragic act that went wrong but an act committed without any intent to harm himself,” said coroner Peter Dean, who recorded a verdict of accidental death.

The inquest held in Bury St Edmunds yesterday (10), heard how mum Julia Gooch had tucked her son into bed at their home in Wickhambrook on November 2. He would normally read for a while or listen to audio books.

She went back up 40 minutes later at around 9.30pm to turn off his light and discovered him sat unresponsive with a belt around his neck. She called for help and his father, a part-time judge Record Christopher Morgan tried to revive his son using CPR.

Edward was taken to West Suffolk Hospital in Bury but doctors were unable to revive him and he was declared dead.

Dr Dean said all the evidence was that Edward had been happy both at school and in the choir. “There is nothing to give any indication that anything was troubling Edward,” he said.

“He was a happy, enthusiastic lad, very motivated by his occupation as a chorister.”

Dr Dean said the only concerns that Edward had previously raised were about being able to hit the high notes before his voice broke.

The evening of his death, Dr Dean told how Edward had returned home from a choir meeting at about 7.30pm, excited about a piece of music he had to sing. He then packed his school bag for the next day.

Consultant paediatrician Dr Peter Powell, children’s safeguarding team leader for Suffolk, looked into Edward’s death and concluded that he may have been experimenting.

“Edward may have in some way been seeking to improve his breathing skills or his voice,” said Dr Powell.

Dr Dean warned others of the ‘extreme dangers’ of experimenting in this way.