Inquest hears Drighlington Juniors player died in tragic accident

Josef Kazzan, who tragically lost his life in July.
Josef Kazzan, who tragically lost his life in July.

A TALENTED young footballer died as the result of an “unspeakably sad” accident while he was playing in his family’s garden, an inquest has heard.

The tragic events unfolded in the afternoon of Sunday July 15, when Drighlington Juniors player Josef Kazzan, nine, was found by his mother tangled in a climbing rope on a willow tree in the garden of the family home in Woodlands Drive, Gomersal.

Coroner Peter Henry Straker recorded the verdict of accidental death, adding: “Josef was playing in the garden when he was caught up in climbing rope which caused the injuries.

“This is an unspeakably sad case and the family have my 
sympathies.”

The family garden was a popular play area for local children, and Josef would regularly play there with his friends, but he was alone in the garden when the tragic accident took place.

In a statement read out to the inquest his mother, Rachel Cullen, said: “We have always encouraged our children to play in the garden because there is space.

“Joe was very much an outdoor boy. He was always full of life and playing.”

Josef had been playing in the garden after the family had come home from church and, after eating a sandwich, he asked his father, Ahmed Kazzan, for another one.

Mr Kazzan, 61, made him a sandwich while Josef was playing in the garden, before placing it on the garden table for him.

He said he became concerned when he noticed later on that the sandwich remained uneaten, and they searched the house for him.

Josef’s mother then went out to the garden where she found him in the tree.

She said: “I saw him and I screamed – his chin was just balancing on the rope. We could not understand why he hadn’t fallen.

Mr Kazzan came to help, and lifted Josef to the ground before giving him the kiss of life. He was helped by Joe’s older sister, Nadiah, but Josef did not regain consciousness.

An ambulance was called at 1.45pm, and paramedics found Josef unresponsive, and took him to Dewsbury and District Hospital. He was transferred to Leeds General Infirmary later that evening.

He remained unconcious and two days later his family took the heart-wrenching decison to switch off his life support.

Josef attended St Patrick’s Catholic Primary School in Birstall and played football for Drighlington U10s – he had been presented with the Parents’ Player of the Year award just two weeks before.

His coach at Drighlington Juniors Simon Duckworth said: “He was just a smashing kid.

“He did what he was told, he had a glint in his eye and a mischievous grin but there wasn’t a nasty bone in his body.”