Harry Sykes inquest: Yorkshire boy, 16, drowned on French rugby tour without anyone realising he had been left behind at lake

A teenager who drowned in a lake while on a rugby trip to France was reported missing after his team got back to their hotel and realised he had been left behind, an inquest has heard.

Harry Sykes was on a college trip with the Halifax Elite Rugby Academy when he died on September 5 2018.

The body of the 16-year-old, from Bradford, was recovered by divers from a lake near Carcassonne in southern France.

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On Monday an inquest at Bradford Coroner’s Court heard Harry and his team members had gone to Lake Cavayere on the second full day of the trip, where Harry had swum with a small group to some rocks and had then been seen playing volleyball in the water.

Harry Sykes dreamt of playing professional rugby

Coroner’s officer Jayne Dawson said Harry had last been seen alive entering the water at around 1.30pm.

Ms Dawson said the team got back to their hotel at around 6pm, adding it was “only then, following a head count, they realised Harry was missing”.

The inquest heard the French authorities were contacted and divers were later dispatched, recovering Harry’s body from the lake that evening.

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He was declared dead at 10.45pm.

West Yorkshire senior coroner Martin Fleming said Harry’s family had “raised concerns about how the trip was organised and supervised”, which would be looked at during the hearing.

Ahead of the inquest, Harry’s mother Natasha Burton said the trip was “poorly planned” and that “supervision at the lake was inadequate”.

Her statement, released through solicitors Ison Harrison, said: “Unbeknown to me at the time, two adults took 38 minors on this trip.”

Mrs Burton told the inquest Harry had been playing rugby since the age of eight or nine, and his dream was to play professionally.

She said he had also had private swimming lessons as a child and described his swimming ability as “excellent”.

Mrs Burton told the inquest Harry had been offered a place at the Halifax Elite Rugby Academy after being handed a leaflet for the college at his rugby club.

She said the trip to France was a bonding session before the start of term, and that her son, who had been diagnosed with a sensory processing disorder and autistic tendencies, was “very excited” to go.

Mrs Burton said Lee Greenwood from the academy, who was running the trip with his brother Gareth, rang her at around 7pm on September 5 to say they “couldn’t find Harry”.

At the time, she said, he told her Harry could have got on the wrong bus or got lost.

She said later that evening “he called back to say they had found him and were bringing him out. I screamed, cried and hung up”.

Harry’s stepfather Daniel Burton told the inquest that after learning Harry was missing, he used the Find My Friends app and discovered Harry’s phone was at a beach area on the lake.

“That showed his phone was not where Harry was,” Mr Burton said.

He told the coroner he spoke several times to Lee and Gareth Greenwood, who said they were going back to the lake to see if Harry was still there, and later told him divers were going to search the lake.

Mr Burton said: “That’s when the magnitude of what was happening started to sink in.”

Mr and Mrs Burton said they were visited by both Greenwood brothers after Harry’s death.

Mrs Burton said Gareth told them Harry had been in the water playing volleyball and he “remembered him swimming off to the side”.

Mrs Burton said she had been told that a post-mortem report said Harry had drowned and that he “had a virus that no-one knew about”.

The inquest, scheduled to last two weeks, continues.