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  • A British jury found Thursday that 16-year-old Ben Leonard’s death on a Scout trip constituted an unlawful killing.
  • Leonard lost his footing on a hike in Llandudno, Wales, in 2018, falling about 200 feet and sustaining a serious head injury.
  • Leonard and two friends were reportedly unsupervised at the time of the incident, and neglect by the Scout Association was considered a factor in his death.

A jury in the U.K. found Thursday that a 16-year-old boy who died on a Scout trip in 2018 was unlawfully killed, and a coroner referred the Scout Association to British police for investigation.

Ben Leonard suffered a serious head injury when he lost his footing on a cliff edge and fell about 200 feet during a hiking trip with a group of Scouts in Llandudno, north Wales, in August 2018.

During a two-month inquest into his death, a jury heard that the teen and two friends had broken away from other Scouts and ended up unsupervised on the ledge.


No qualified first aider was present for the trip, which were against Scouts rules for expeditions.

The jury found a Scout leader on the trip and his assistant were responsible for Leonard’s death. It also found that neglect by the Scout Association contributed to the boy’s death.

Assistant coroner David Pojur referred the Scout Association and an unnamed employee to North Wales Police to investigate whether they conspired to pervert the course of justice.

An initial inquest into the teen’s death was held in February 2020, but Pojur discharged the jury at the time, saying the Scout Association had failed to provide the court with full information and “created a misleading impression.”

Union Jack

The Union Jack is photographed against a partly-cloudy sky. (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)

Lawyers for the Scout Association sought a legal ban on the reporting of the police referral, but the coroner refused the application after British media objected.

The Scout Association publicly apologized and accepted responsibility for Leonard’s death at the start of the current inquest. The organization said Thursday it has made changes to its risk assessments and safety rules since 2018, but rejected allegations of any criminal action.

“We take today’s conclusion extremely seriously. We want to restate our wholehearted apology to Ben Leonard’s family and our deepest sympathies continue to be with his family and friends,” said Jennie Price, chair of the Scout Association board of trustees.

“We emphatically refute allegations made in court about any criminal action on behalf of The Scout Association,” she added.

Leonard’s mother said the apology came too late. She also called for more oversight of the Scouts.

“Waiting so long for this verdict means we’ve lived in limbo for years,” Jackie Leonard said. “We’ve been unable to move forward.”


Lawyers for Leonard’s family said there have been 12 deaths linked to the Scouts or on Scout trips in the past 30 years in the U.K.

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