Man accidentally kills friend by pushing him off 12ft driving range at Topgolf in Chigwell

A bricklayer died from catastrophic spinal injuries after his friend pushed him off a 12ft high golf driving range in a drunken prank.

Conner Groom fell from a booth at Topgolf in Chigwell, Essex, during a work Christmas party on December 21, 2021.

The 22-year-old was pushed by a close friend, but his grieving relatives told police they did not want the man to be prosecuted for his death.

The friend was arrested on suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm without intent after the incident, but the charges were later dropped.

Essex Coroner’s Court heard Mr Groom fell headlong over the edge of the safety netting beneath the first-floor spaces of the driving range and died five weeks later from a spinal injury.

The investigation found that Mr. Groom and his friends had been drinking throughout the night before arriving at Topgolf.

After beginning the session, the friends began jokingly pushing each other into safety nets, according to the investigation.

Staff repeatedly warned the group to stop, and they apologized and said they “wouldn’t do it again.”

However, a short time later, Mr Groom’s friend ran over and pushed him, but instead of falling into the net like his friends, he went over the edge and fell headlong to the ground.

‘Clearly seen as a joke’

Detective Inspector Lydia George, of Essex Police, told the inquest how officers had taken statements from several people at the scene and reviewed CCTV footage of the incident.

She said: “All of the (footage) shows them in good spirits and no signs of animosity.

“Many times friends are shown trying to push each other towards the safety net. “It was clearly seen as a joke.”

The man who ended up pushing Mr. Groom to his death was not involved in the previous pushing incidents, the detective said.