HORROR AT THE TATE
Teen held for attempted murder after ‘throwing boy aged six from tenth-floor viewing platform’
By George Odling, Vanessa Allen and Jake Hurfurt
A boy of six was fighting for his life last night after being thrown from a 200ft viewing platform at Tate Modern.
The child was snatched from his mother’s arms by a stranger who hurled him over a barrier on the tenth floor.
The mother screamed ‘ My son, my son’ before rushing to the lifts to try to reach him. He fell 100ft on to a roof on the fifth floor.
A youth believed to have carried out the crime was pinned to the ground by visitors to the London art gallery. A boy of 17 was later arrested on suspicion of attempted murder.
Scotland Yard says there is nothing to suggest that the suspect knew the victim, who was flown to hospital by air ambulance and is in a critical condition.
An Italian, who gave her name as Adelaide, tweeted: ‘A girl was with her son in her arms on the terrace of Tate Modern, a stranger approached and threw the child down.’
She said the youngster had been ‘ ripped from his mother’s hands’ and the gallery was immediately put into lockdown. Entrances and exits were closed, leaving thousands trapped while paramedics treated the child.
Nancy Barnfield said she and her two young sons were stalked on the viewing platform by a stranger only seconds before the horrifying incident. The 47-year-old from Rochdale was
so alarmed that she warned her children to avoid him. ‘He followed us around everywhere,’ she said.
‘I told my kids to stay away from that man, it went on for ages. He looked about 19 to 21 years old, acting so weird.
‘He had his hands behind his back the whole time, his back to the wall, just watching people. We walked away from him then immediately when he was out of sight a woman was screaming “My son, my son” and people were grabbing him.’
Mrs Barnfield said the hysterical mother ran to the lift to try to find her son below. She described her as around 35 and speaking with an Italian accent.
She said the suspect was tall, white and bearded and became ‘completely calm and silent’ when detained by gallery visitors.
‘He didn’t fight back, didn’t shout or anything,’ she added. ‘He was just emotionless. The whole situation was terrifying. We are so shaken.’
Another witness said: ‘I heard the impact and then screaming from above as a woman screamed “He’s my son! He’s my son!” I went inside because the screaming was horrific, the boy didn’t make any noise but the people from the viewing platform were screaming.’
Corinne Brookes, 25, arrived at the viewing platform seconds after the incident.
She said: ‘People were screaming and shouting and these two guys looked like they were fighting, they were grabbing each other. The two guys were holding another guy, kind of like they were fighting.
‘I went in and said to the security lady “Something’s going on out there”. Then I
‘The whole situation was terrifying’
saw a woman climbing, with her leg and arm over the railing on the balcony.
‘At that point people were grabbing their children and screaming and crying so I just thought something terrible had happened, so I started running down the stairs and other people were running.
‘As I was going downstairs a woman was crying her eyes out and I said “Are you OK? What exactly happened?”
‘She said “They’ve thrown him off, someone’s thrown a kid off”.’
Australian expat Rob Rochette tweeted: ‘Just been evacuated under a huge panic from the members’ lounge of Tate Modern.’
The air ambulance, two road ambulances, fire crews and police were sent to the South Bank to rescue the boy from the roof shortly after 2.40pm.
BBC journalist Jonny Dymond, who was at the gallery at the time, said visitors were funnelled into the main hall while all exits were closed. He said: ‘There were quite a lot of families with children, and security guards told us we couldn’t leave.’
Alexandra Orton tweeted: ‘ Trapped inside Tate Modern. Police and air ambulance here. Story from a witness is that a child has fallen (been pushed) from a balcony. Quite terrifying.’
A Metropolitan Police spokesman said emergency services were called to ‘reports of a young boy thrown from the tenth-floor viewing platform’.
She added: ‘ The six-year- old victim was found on a fifth-floor roof. He was treated at the scene and taken to hospital by London’s Air Ambulance. The boy’s condition is critical; his family are being supported by police.
‘A 17-year-old male had remained with members of the public on the tenth-floor viewing platform.
‘There is nothing to suggest that he is known to the victim. The teenager was arrested by police officers on suspicion of attempted murder and taken into custody.’
The gallery remained closed for the rest of the day. A spokesman said: ‘Tate is working closely with the police to help with their investigations. All our thoughts are with the child and his family.’
A London Ambulance Service spokesman said: ‘We treated a person at the scene and took them to hospital as a priority.’
The viewing platform, which has a chest-high barrier, is part of the £260million Tate extension known as the Blavatnik Building. It offers a panoramic view over London.
The gallery was the most popular tourist attraction in Britain in 2018, with 5.9million visits, according to the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions.
Rescue: Paramedics and police on the fifth-floor roof where the child landed
Attraction: The boy fell 100ft from Tate Modern’s tenth-floor viewing platform, circled
Emergency: The air ambulance flies in