A TODDLER was fatally injured after a postbox he was climbing on fell on top of him, an inquest heard.

John Henry Smith was playing outside with his brother at the Star Hill traveller site, in Hartley Wintney, when he was crushed by a free-standing cast-iron postbox that was on a brick plinth.

The 19-month-old toddler was taken first to the village surgery and then to Frimley Park Hospital, in Surrey, where he was pronounced dead, having suffered fatal injuries to his liver.

His mother Jane Smith broke down in tears at today’s inquest at Alton Magistrates’ Court as she recalled what happened on the morning of May 15 this year.

She said she let John Henry and his four-year-old brother David James play in the yard outside their home just after 9am while she was cleaning inside.

Mrs Smith said: “Then David James came shouting at me, saying, ‘Mum, the letterbox is on him’.

“I ran down. I remember seeing his face and him looking at me. I knew he was not right – the colour had just drained from him.”

Joyce Perkins, the site manager of Star Hill Caravan Park, said she rushed to Mrs Smith’s home when she heard a scream and saw John Henry lying on the ground. His lips were blue and he had turned pale.

An ambulance was called but members of his family decided to drive the toddler to Hartley Wintney Surgery, in Chapter Terrace.

Doctors there were concerned that the infant had suffered a head injury because he had a cut to the back of his head, the inquest heard. He also suffered a fit, thought to have been caused by a lack of oxygenated blood to the brain.

It was only when he was taken to Frimley Park Hospital that a scan revealed he had suffered massive internal injuries to his liver. He was pronounced dead at 11.45am.

Andrew Bradley, coroner for North East Hampshire, described the toddler as a “tip-top bruiser”, and the inquest had heard how John Henry had started to climb household objects in the weeks before the tragedy.

Recording a verdict of accidental death, Mr Bradley said: “He was climbing on the postbox, and it’s an old cast-iron Victorian postbox, and in the course of that, the article falls on top of him.

“It’s thought initially he has sustained a head injury. What’s not appreciated at that stage is that the weight of the postbox on the 19-month-old has crushed his liver.”

He added: “He sustained injuries incompatible with life. The damage to the liver is massive, as extensive as anything I have ever seen. It’s a matter of such sadness.”