Mum-of-two died after being hit in the neck by a wooden horse costume at Cornish May Day festival

A MUM-OF-TWO died after being hit in the neck by a wooden horse costume in a tragedy during May Day celebrations.

Laura Smallwood fell unconscious moments after being knocked by the costume, a large wooden circle worn by a masked male dancer at the event in Cornwall.

However, an inquest today heard another injury may have been inflicted during a scuffle earlier in the day.

The paediatric nurse, 34, died in Derriford Hospital on May 4 2019, three days after the centuries-old 'Obby 'Oss festival was held in Padstow.

While the incident might have caused Mrs Smallwood's death, she may also have been hit in the head during a row with another woman hours before, senior coroner Andrew Cox said.

Complicating matters further, a medical report suggested she also sustained a third injury weeks or months before.

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Mrs Smallwood was involved in a "scuffle" with another woman at about 6.15pm on the day of the parade, the inquest heard.

The court heard that the woman, who was in an argument with her boyfriend and another boy, said she pushed Mrs Smallwood when she tried to intervene.

One witness described hearing a "wallop" or a "slap" when the woman made contact with Mrs Smallwood and recalled seeing her sunglasses fly off her head and into the road.

Kirsten Norfolk, a local priest, said she remembered seeing a mark on Mrs Smallwood's forehead afterwards.

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However, Mrs Smallwood "seemed fine" and "laughed it off".

Around an hour later, another witness, Sian Howells, said she saw the hobby horse make a "significant impact" with the back of Mrs Smallwood's neck.

Minutes later, the mum said she felt "dizzy" and the right side of her face began "drooping". Her breathing became "laboured" and she turned blue before collapsing, it was heard.

Mrs Smallwood's husband Oliver told the court his wife was a "very happy", "really fun" and "very caring" woman.

He was working in a local pub at around 7pm when he received a phone call telling him his wife had been "knocked out" after she was "hit by the 'Oss".

He initially believed Mrs Smallwood would recover after being told she was "ok". However, after dashing to a nearby field, he saw people attempting to resuscitate her.

"I could already see that Laura was lying on the ground," he said.

"She was having CPR administered to her."


Mr Smallwood told the inquest he accompanied Laura by air ambulance to hospital.

He was first told the situation was "positive" because medics could not find any damage, although they were unsure of why she was deeply unconscious.

Kevin Constance, the man in the horse costume, told the inquest the fullness of risk assessments have been increased "to a degree".

He said: "Can I offer my sincere condolences and sympathies to the family? This isn't the sort of thing that I wanted to happen."

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In June 2019, police said they would not be charging anyone in relation to Mrs Smallwood's death.

The inquest continues.

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