Teenage rugby player, 15, accidentally fell to his death from window

Teenage rugby player, 15, accidentally fell to his death from seventh-floor window on Spanish school exchange after texting his brother, ‘I hate this family. I’m going to leave,’ inquest told

  • Max McMullen fell to his death from the bathroom window at Spanish block  
  • An inquest heard that Max may have been trying to fix a broken shutter
  • He had texted frustrations hours earlier ‘I hate this family. I’m going to leave’

A teenage rugby player fell to his death from a seventh-floor window by accident on a Spanish home school exchange after texting ‘I hate this family. I’m going to leave’

Max McCullen, 15, messaged his brother, Ben, and a friend before his death during a language exchange trip in Cordoba on October 19, 2019.

Max McMullen (pictured) accidentally fell to his death in Spain

And the Beechen Cliff school pupil had asked to swap his exchange partner during the trip, an inquest heard.

Coroner Maria Voisin summed up the evidence during the hearing at Avon Coroners Court in Flax Bourton, Somerset, before recording a verdict of accidental death.

She read out several of his text messages, which included: ‘I actually hate him, I actually hate this family,’ ‘I’m stressed and I don’t like him;’ ‘I’m moving. I’m leaving in the night and I’ll leave a note, I actually will;’ and ‘I actually am going to leave. I’ll pack my suitcase at 1 and someone will meet me.’

She said he had been to a park with friends and friends said ‘Max was on great form, it was a really fun night’ but that he spoke of his ‘frustration with his exchange partner and wanted to swap mid-trip. He didn’t want to leave.’

The court heard Max had been with friends in a park until around 10pm, when he had to return to his host family.

Friends said in statements there had been some alcohol, but they had not been drunk. Alcohol was found in his blood, but no drugs.

The coroner previously heard how Max messaged friends on Snapchat to say he had wanted to go back to the park.

Max’s family were at the inquest today to hear the coroner record a verdict of accidental death

He went to his bedroom at 10.45pm and the host’s mother was in an adjoining bedroom.

Ms Voisin said: ‘She heard the blinds shaken vigorously and finally a loud bang. She went to the bedroom and confirmed nobody was there. When she looked out of the window she confirmed the body of a minor on the ground’.

The host’s mother believed Max may have been trying to fix shutters and there were no signs of violence in the dwelling, the court heard.

Max was found dead on the ground at about 11pm and Spanish police described it as a ‘tragic accident’.

The hearing was told he had died from loss and arrest of vital nervous systems due to acute traumatic brain injury.

The court heard Max had previously been in a low mood and said to a friend ‘mate, I’m feeling really depressed’

(The street pictured above) where the teenager fell to his death in Cordoba during a school exchange

But Max’s family, doctor, school and other pupils indicated he was in a good mood prior to and during the exchange trip.

Ms Voisin said: ‘Max was a happy young man, who loved sport and was an accomplished sportsman.’

The coroner summed up the evidence from Kate Marshall, the lead teacher for the trip, who said the children were matched by forms and Max said he didn’t have much in common with his partner but did not look ‘upset or worried’.

Miss Marshall had said there was a shared and agreed understanding of care arrangements but this was not written down.

She also said they did not carry out checks at the host homes but relied on the judgement of the partner school.

But she said there were various ways for parents and children to keep in touch, including by mobile phone and use of a safe word if needed, but neither Max or his friends made contact before his death.

Ms Voisin said:’No one is on trial here, least of all the deceased. It’s about finding out how someone died, not a matter of apportioning blame.

‘Max operating window blind shutters means he didn’t intend to fall from the window and I therefore conclude it was an accident.

‘All that remains to be said is how sorry I am to the family.’

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