Family win fight for ‘pollution death’ girl
New inquest after Ella, 9, suffered fatal coughing fit
A FAMILY who say their daughter was killed by illegal levels of air pollution from a busy road have won a new inquest.
When asthma sufferer Ella Kissi-Debrah, nine, suffered a fatal coughing fit a coroner ruled that the cause of death was ‘respiratory failure’.
But Ella’s mother refused to accept this as the reason why her ‘bubbly, healthy, active and happy’ girl died, and she went on to find that pollution near their home was unlawfully high.
Now the High Court has cleared the way for a second inquest which would make legal history if Ella’s cause of death is given as toxic air pollution. Although the problem is said to cause 40-50,000 UK deaths each year, it has never been recorded on a death certificate.
Ella, who died in 2013 after three years of seizures and 27 hospital visits, lived 80ft from the fume-choked A205 South Circular road in Hither Green, southeast London. After reading of her death, Professor Stephen Holgate of Southampton University found that pollution levels at a local monitoring station consistently broke EU limits for three years before.
Levels of nitrogen dioxide and ozone, both asthma triggers, were particularly high.
Judge Mark Lucraft QC said yesterday: ‘The discovery of new evidence makes it necessary in the interests of justice that a fresh inquest be held.’
Ella’s mother, Rosamund Kissi-Debrah, said: ‘I am absolutely delighted by today’s ruling and look forward to finally getting the truth about Ella’s death. The past six years of not knowing why my beautiful, bright and bubbly daughter died has been difficult but I hope the new inquest will answer whether air pollution took her away from us.
‘If it is proved that pollution killed Ella then the Government will be forced to sit up and take notice that this hidden but deadly killer is cutting short our children’s lives.’
Mrs Kissi-Debrah, who has two other children, raised £28,000 to pay legal fees and wrote in her funds appeal: ‘Ella was a bubbly, healthy, active and happy child. She loved cycling, skateboarding, playing football and won many certificates for her swimming. She dreamt of becoming a pilot.’
Her lawyer Jocelyn Cockburn said officials would now have to say why they ignored ‘overwhelming evidence’ about the health impact of air pollution.
London mayor Sadiq Khan welcomed the court ruling as ‘recognising the scale of the air pollution health crisis’.
Ella: Suffered from asthma