'A warning to parents' - Wakefield coroner's message after drowning of Elliot Burton, 15, in city's hydroelectric plant

Parents in Wakefield have been warned of the dangers of trespassing, after a missing teenager was found drowned at the city's hydroelectric plant.

Friday, 7th May 2021, 7:00 am
Parents in Wakefield have been warned of the dangers of trespassing, after a missing teenager was found drowned at the city's hydroelectric plant. Elliot Burton, 15, was reported missing in July 2019 - and a coroner has now issued a warning to parents about the danger of children trespassing at the city's hydroelectric plant.

Elliot Burton 15, was reported missing on Thursday, July 25, 2019, after he failed to return home from a walk.

In the days that followed, more than 6,000 people joined a Facebook group dedicated to bringing Elliot, a Wakefield Trinity fan, home, with dozens joining search parties.

But on Monday, July 29, it was confirmed that a body found in water off Boundary Lane, Normanton, had been identified as Elliot.

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Elliot Burton, 15, was reported missing on Thursday, July 25, 2019, after he failed to return home from a walk. Hundreds of tributes were left at Wakefield Trinity's Bell Vue stadium.

At an inquest into his death at Wakefield Coroner's Court, senior coroner Kevin McLoughlin said that Elliot was found drowned on the site of the Kirkthorpe Hydroelectric Plant on the River Calder near Normanton.

Mr McLoughlin said that CCTV showed Elliot entering the plant on the morning of July 25, before slipping and falling into an outlet channel at around 10.30am.

The footage was not discovered until after Elliot's body was recovered from the water.

Mr McLoughlin said: "The smooth tall concrete sides of this enclosure would have prevented him climbing out.

"He was unable to swim and so would probably have been unable to reach the escape ladder in the corner of the enclosure, even if he was aware of its position.

"There was no one on site to hear him or effect a rescue."

He recorded a conclusion of misadventure due to drowning.

But in a followup report, he also warned parents on the nearby Eastmoor Estate, where Elliot lived, of ongoing risks at the hydroelectric plant.

Mr McLoughlin said that the plant was unmanned and in a remote location, and it was known that young people frequently trespassed on the site.

In a report to Yorkshire Hydropower Limited, who run the site, he noted a number of deep channels of water on the site, many of which "are uncovered and/or have no edge protection."

This would place trespassers at risk if, like Elliot, they fell into the water, he said.

And although there is perimeter fencing around the plant, the coroner said it was known that children gain access to the site by crossing the adjacent Kirkthorpe Weir.

Mr McLoughlin wrote: "Despite the passage of some 21 months since Elliot Burton's death, little effective action has been taken to reduce the risk of children being harmed if they are tempted to trespass on this site.

"In my opinion action should be taken to prevent future deaths.

"In my opinion there is a risk that future deaths will occur unless action is taken."

Speaking after Elliot’s body was found, his family thanked the public for their support.

His cousin, Emily Rusling, described him as “a kid who was loved by everyone who knew him” and praised the “compassionate and respectful” officers who had aided the family during their search.