Nottingham Trent student falls to her death while sliding down bannister at pre-drinks

The Council House in Old Market Square, Nottingham city centre
The Council House in Old Market Square, Nottingham city centre -Credit:Joseph Raynor/ Nottingham Post

A Nottingham student fell to her death while sliding down a bannister during pre-drinks, an inquest has heard. Benita Kaur Gill, 20, was having drinks with her friends at a student flat in Old Market Square when she fell a distance of one and a half floors after climbing onto a bannister.

The tragic events unfolded as the Nottingham Trent University marketing student was leaving the flat on the second floor at the Student Hideout to go to an event. The incident occurred at around 9.55pm, with the event due to start at 10pm on Wednesday, March 29, 2023.

Assistant coroner for Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Sarah Wood told an inquest hearing that Benita's cause of death was "1(a) traumatic brain injury, caused by 1(b) fall, and 2(b) alcohol intoxication". Evidence given by DC Demi Robertson at the hearing on Wednesday, May 15, at Nottingham Council House, described how Benita climbed on the bannister with her back facing outwards when she lost her balance and fell, with the incident captured on CCTV.

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Nottinghamshire Police received a call from EMAS at 10.15pm, and a scene remained in place while investigations were carried out until the next day at around 11am. Benita was taken to the Queen's Medical Centre but died due to her injuries on March 31.

Coroner Wood said: "Benita and her two friends appeared to be having the best time laughing, singing and dancing as they walked down the stairs. They were taking photographs and videos of themselves to upload onto the social media platform TikTok.

"Benita then sat sideways on the bannister of the stairs and started to slide down it with her back facing the stairwell. I find that alcohol has contributed to decision making in doing so, which has ultimately led to her fall, causing a traumatic brain injury."

Coroner Wood added that footage has shown that Benita was not holding her phone while sitting on the handrail, nor was she being filmed by her friends. No health and safety concerns were present at the time of the incident regarding the student accommodation, run by Unipol.

Following the accident, an independent health and safety review was carried out by the company, which resulted in a recommendation for a higher bannister reaching hip level to be installed. Coroner Wood said: "I note that this is a recommendation, not a requirement, and the staircase had passed all its recent inspections."

Finishing her conclusion, the coroner said: "I find that Benita's action of sitting on the handrail and subsequently sliding down it unexpectedly and unintentionally went tragically wrong. I wish to express my sincere condolences to the family and friends of Benita and I’m so very sorry for your loss."

The hearing was attended by Benita's parents, brother and two of her friends. A statement was read in court on behalf of Benita's family by one of her friends.

The statement said: "She was the most beautiful, caring, kind, warm-hearted girl, both inside and out, and her energy and smile would enlighten the room. We’re blessed to have had her in our lives, but her time with us was cut short and we all miss her so much that we can't put it into words. We are left heartbroken and devastated."

Benita had just been offered a placement in West London and had set up an eyelash business in her first year of university. She intended to travel after graduation for a year, "to experience the world before hitting her career aspirations".

The family thanked the police and the hospital for the support but criticised the speed of communication from the university, claiming it took two months for the university to send a letter of condolence, which the family deemed to be too long.

They said: "Furthermore, we advocate for the health and safety advice to be followed to prevent any other families from going through what we have. Benita, we are so proud of you. You will forever be in our hearts, always and forever for the rest of our lives. Shine bright like a diamond baby girl."

A Nottingham Trent University spokesperson said: “The university community was saddened to learn of the death of Benita, who was a popular and highly-valued student. We continue to offer support to our students who knew Benita or who are affected by this news. We again extend our condolences to her family and friends at this incredibly difficult time.”