It was nearly nine months ago that five-year-old Alexia Walenkaki was killed playing on a swing in a Mile End park.
Her death caused untold anguish, raised a number of questions and brought claims that Tower Hamlets Borough Council might be accountable with talk of possible corporate manslaughter charges.
But Alexia’s grieving mother may have to wait until next year to understand how her daughter died playing on a rope swing.
The rope was held by a decaying tree branch which snapped and fell on her. London Ambulance Service found Alexia in cardiac arrest. She died at the Royal London Hospital at 6.43pm that evening, July 17.
The inquest into the girl was due to take place over three days this week but on Monday the coroner announced a long postponement.
The chief coroner for St Pancras and Poplar Mary Hassell expressed her annoyance and dismay at the outcome. She said it was “wrong” – but she had “no alternative” as the police and the Crown Prosecution Service said they needed to conduct further investigations.
The little girl’s family sat in court along with witnesses and were sent away for an undefined span of time, something Ms Hassell called “very, very undesirable”.
She said: “I am very unhappy that this should be adjourned for such a long date.
“I am entirely conscious that Alexia died in 2015. It seems to me that for an inquest to take over a year to be heard is wrong but I have no alternative in the present situation.”
Det Insp Craig Bradley said that some “new” information from the Health and Safety Executive had generated further leads.
Ms Hassell said: “It is a poor state of affairs. I do not know, in terms of the police and the Crown Prosecution Service, how this could have arisen.”
Mother Vida Kwotuah has previously said the council should be held responsible.
She told the Evening Standard before the inquest: “I feel very angry and cheated. I’m angry that the log wasn’t checked for quite some time. If it wasn’t for those lapses by the council, Alexia would still be here.”
Tower Hamlets mayor John Biggs said: “The coroner has decided to adjourn the inquest in order to be able to fully consider the findings of the joint investigation by the police and the Health and Safety Executive, when ready.”