Mother tells of ‘lovely’ boy in hanging horror

Josef Kazzan. Picture: Ross Parry Agency
Josef Kazzan. Picture: Ross Parry Agency
Have your say

THE devastated mother of a nine-year-old boy who accidentally hanged himself from a rope in his garden has told how his family has been left broken by his death.

Josef Kazzan’s mother and a neighbour tried to resuscitate him after he got caught in a play rope which was tied to a tree outside his home in Cleckheaton.

Flowers mark the scene of the tragedy. Picture: Ross Pary Agency

Flowers mark the scene of the tragedy. Picture: Ross Pary Agency

He was taken to Leeds General Infirmary but his life support machine was switched off two days later.

He lived in Cleckheaton with his father Ahmed, 61, mother Rachel 43, sister Nadiah 16 and brother Sam, aged five.

His mother Rachel Cullen said: “Joe loved playing in the garden, but it had been raining for weeks so as soon as the sun came out, he was desperate to play outside.

“He asked me if he could have his hair cut that day.

“He had just started to take an interest in his appearance, he loved fashion and styling his hair.

“I told him I would cut his hair for him, but he told me I couldn’t do it properly.

“That was the last time I spoke to him. I’m the sort of mum who’s always worrying about where my kids are, what they’re doing.

“I was looking after Sam and then I wondered where Joe had gone. It must have only been about five minutes since I saw him. I was looking around the house for him, then I looked out of the window and saw him in the tree. I don’t remember screaming, but Nadiah says I was.

“I ran out to the tree and clambered up to try and pull him down. I remember Ahmed came out and I passed Joe to him.”

The family called an ambulance, while his mother and Nadiah, who is first-aid trained, started performing CPR.

Paramedics rushed Josef to Dewsbury and District Hospital, managing to start his heart again on the way. He was transferred to Leeds General Infirmary, where doctors told his parents that the rope had caused Joe to pass out immediately.

Rachel said: “Of course, I’m so thankful that Joe didn’t feel any pain. The doctors have told me that he wouldn’t have been able to cry out, he would have fainted immediately. One of the doctors said to me that Joe was unlucky – she had seen someone only a few weeks before where the same thing had happened, but he walked out of the hospital.

“Joe was unlucky that the rope caught him in such a way that it cut off his heart and brain supply.”

His father, a former mortgage and insurance service agent, said: “One of the doctors told me that there was a chance he could survive but that he could have brain damage. I told the doctor ‘I don’t care, I want him home. If there is a chance, do what you can’.”

Medics battled to keep Josef alive, but on Tuesday July 17 the family were told that he had brain stem death and took the decision to switch off his life support machine.

Rachel said: “I’m in shock. As a mother, you just never, ever think that this will happen to you.

“It doesn’t feel real. I never left my kids alone. I can’t believe this happened when I turned my back for such a short period of time.

“I am just taking one hour at a time because I can’t even begin to think about life without Joe.

“Joe was a beautiful, lovely boy. He was full of life and energy and loved being around people. He would win everyone over.

“He loved company, he had loads of friends and was always wanting to call on his friends.

“He loved football, swimming, playing the piano. He would be reluctant at first, but then excelled at whatever he put his hand to.

“He would play football whenever he could – in the garden with his friends, at his football club, where he had just been given an award.

“He was one half of his little brother Sam. They were best friends. The family has been torn apart by this. The house is quiet, we are broken.”

Next-door neighbour Steve Rhodes, 49, told how he heard shouting and saw Josef’s parents climbing up the tree.

He said: “I think he’d been on the rope when he must’ve slipped or something.

“We managed to get a heartbeat and a weak pulse but he never came round after that. I can’t believe he’s gone.”

Josef, who went to St Patrick’s Primary School in Birstall, played football for Drighlington Under-10s.

West Yorkshire Police are not treating his death as suspicious.

An inquest into Josef’s death, on Tuesday last week, has been opened.