Tate Modern: Boy who was thrown from balcony takes first steps

Boy, seven, who suffered horrific life-changing injuries after being thrown from 10th floor balcony at Tate Modern takes first unaided steps 19 months after savage attack

  • The seven-year-old boy has been nicknamed the Little Knight by his parents 
  • He stood up unaided with use of lighter splints, his parents revealed this month
  • Jonty Bravery, 19, was sentenced to detention for life with a minimum of 15 years
  • Bravery threw the then six-year-old off viewing platform at Tate Modern in 2019
  • The unnamed victim had travelled on holiday to London from his home in France 

A seven-year-old boy who suffered horrific life-changing injuries after being thrown from the 10th floor balcony at the Tate Modern has taken his first unaided steps.

The boy, dubbed the Little Knight by his parents because of ‘a full armour of splints’ across his legs, feet, hands, arms, neck and torso, took his ‘first steps alone’, according to a Go Fund Me page update.

His parents said: ‘Regarding the progress of our little knight, he received new leg splints, lighter and more efficient. We are pleased to announce to you that with them, our son took his first steps alone, during physiotherapy and with us!’

His attacker, Jonty Bravery, 19, was sentenced to detention for life, with a minimum of 15 years, at the Old Bailey in June after pleading guilty to attempted murder.  

The boy, dubbed the Little Knight by his parents because of ‘a full armour of splints’ across his legs, feet, hands, arms, neck and torso, took his ‘first steps alone’, according to a Go Fund Me page update. Pictured, the scene following the boy’s fall

The injured boy’s parents last week revealed their son could only walk unaided ‘under increased surveillance’ because he was at risk of falling. They said: ‘But the few metres he performs delight him and us too.’ 

The victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had travelled on holiday from his home in France when the attack happened in central London in August 2019. 

His devastated parents watched on as for months he was too weak to even speak, following the attack at the Tate Modern gallery.

Jonty Bravery (pictured), 19, was sentenced to detention for life, with a minimum of 15 years, at the Old Bailey in June after pleading guilty to attempted murder

Bravery had researched the easiest way to kill someone in advance of the incident, on August 4 last year, and had ‘searched for the most vulnerable child’ at the gallery , a court heard. Pictured, the Tate Modern in the attack’s aftermath

But he has now regained the vocal strength to make his toys speak when he plays with them, and can hum and sing.

He was able to take his first standing shower last week after building up enough strength in his shoulders to hold onto a bar, his parents said.

Timeline: The seven-year-old boy’s recovery 

The unnamed boy, then aged six, fell 100ft from a 10th floor balcony in August 2019.

Here is his timeline of recovery:

2019

August Underwent two ‘long and difficult’ operations, according to his parents.

September Able to smile and laugh. 

October Could move his right hand. 

November Started to move his legs. 

December The boy started to speak syllable by syllable. Able to move all four limbs. 

2020 

January The boy was able to eat mash.  

March Able to hold a spoon and sit up without the help of a corset. 

May Took his first steps. His parents said: ‘Finally, as he has muscled his thighs well, he can now carry his own weight.’

August Allowed home for the weekend where he went for a trip to the seaside with his parents and built sandcastles with friends.

September The boy was able to stand unaided for the first time. He started hippotherapy, with horses. His memory improved so he could remember activities he had done the same day or the day before. He could eat almost alone as long as the food was chopped up and drink slightly thickened liquids.

November He started to walk with a tetrapod cane while his parents held him by the back of the coat for balance. He could also hold his tube of toothpaste or his glasses case to close it. He started singing word by word rather than each syllable.

2021

March Able to walk unaided and to hold a bar or a handle with enough strength so he could take a standing shower.  

In a joint statement they added: ‘He still has a slightly nasal voice when he speaks, but he gets more and more breath, thanks to the work done with the speech and language therapist and to the training with the blowpipe.

‘He also begins to make his toys talk when he plays. Until now, he had not enough strength to do that and used to play silently.

‘This brings back a bit of life and normality to our daily life. Furthermore, we now come to recognise some of the melodies he hums.

‘Similarly, we can recognise small pieces of lyrics from the songs he tries to learn again.

‘He also improved writing and reading too. This is a big step forward for the recovery of his memory.

‘It remains fragile, but learning is possible again, little by little, which gives us hope for the future.’

The boy suffered a bleed to the brain, multiple broken bones, and will reportedly need constant care until at least 2022.

So far, a crowdfunder set up to aid his recovery has raised a staggering £264,000.

The boy’s parents revealed the boy now sleeps at home and goes to rehabilitation therapy during the day.

They said: ‘Luckily we have not been locked down again and our son can now benefit from the out-patient therapy: he undergoes rehabilitation therapy at hospital everyday and he sleeps at home every evening, so that we finally experience a family life again since January, which is so enjoyable.

‘It is an important turning point and the changes in our life are significant.’ 

In December, a judge dismissed his attacker’s appeal against a sentence for attempted murder.

Bravery was also given an extra 14 weeks’ jail time in December for two counts of common assault following attacks at Broadmoor hospital in Berkshire, while he was on remand for the first incident.

Speaking after his appeal was quashed, the child’s parents said: ‘Although we are now far away from him at great distance, we are extremely relieved to know that he will not be able anymore to end up in a public space and commit new crimes.

‘We are thankful to the UK justice and courts system for helping to protect other children in that way.’ 

It was previously revealed Bravery had been allowed out alone – despite a history of violence and being on anti-psychotic drugs.

Autistic Bravery was in council care but ‘frequently assaulted’ his carers and had been arrested for attacking them, the Old Bailey heard.

Yet he was considered safe to go by himself on a day trip to London, where he hurled the French schoolboy off a 100ft balcony and then smirked to the youngster’s distraught father: ‘I’m mad.’ 

The victim fell from the observation balcony of the Blavatnik Building at the art gallery

Bravery had researched the easiest way to kill someone in advance of the incident, on August 4 last year, and had ‘searched for the most vulnerable child’ at the gallery , a court heard.  

He told detectives that he had planned the attack to get on the TV news and later told medical experts he felt ‘undestructable’ (Sic) and ‘on top of the world’ after throwing the boy off the viewing platform. 

After the attack Bravery was heard to blame social services for his actions, saying ‘it’s not my fault, it’s social services’ fault,’ – a claim he made because he felt he was not getting the right treatment for his mental health as a ‘looked-after child’ under the care of Hammersmith and Fulham Social Services.

He later claimed he had heard voices in his heard telling him to ‘kill people’ and said he ‘wanted to be on the news’ so that people – ‘especially his parents’ – could see it was a ‘mistake’ not to put him in hospital, the court heard. 

A court sketch showing Bravery appearing at the Old Bailey via video link. At one point in the hearing, Bravery left his chair and faced the wall

The Old Bailey was told about a ‘shocking, prophetic’ audio recording of Bravery confessing his murderous plans.

The chilling recording – in which Bravery vowed to his carers almost a year in advance that he would ‘push somebody off’ a tall building – was revealed by the Daily Mail in February. 

The shocking investigation into the Tate incident discovered that the private care company hired by Hammersmith and Fulham council to look after Bravery at his flat had disastrously relaxed his ‘one-on-one’ supervision.

The court was told by prosecutor Deanna Heer: ‘He frequently assaulted staff. He lashed out every six weeks or so.’ She said in 2017 he was cautioned for common assault when he hit a carer in the chest with a cutlery knife and slapped her face. 

The youngster was airlifted to hospital in a critical condition with fractures to his spine, legs and arms and a bleed on the brain. (Pictured, how the horror incident unfolded)  


Bravery (left and right in a court sketch) threw the six-year-old boy from a tenth-floor balcony at the Tate Modern in London

Then four months before the Tate incident, he was arrested for punching another care worker on a trip to Burger King.

By August, he ‘was on a low dose of anti-psychotic medication’ yet ‘was allowed out unaccompanied for four-hour periods’, said Miss Heer.

Prosecutor Deanna Heer said: ‘As (the boy) approached, the defendant scooped him up and, without any hesitation, carried him straight to the railings and threw him over. 

‘The CCTV footage shows (the boy) falling head-first towards the ground.’

Ms Heer said CCTV also showed the defendant backing away from the railings.

She said: ‘He can be seen to be smiling, with his arms raised. At one point, he appears to shrug and laugh.

‘The footage also captures (the victim’s) parents’ disbelief and rising panic at what had just happened.’

She said the boy’s father initially thought the incident was ‘a joke’ until he saw his son’s distorted body below.

Parent’s heartbreaking statement: How can you tell a child that someone tried to kill him? All our lives are in ruins 

The act committed by this individual against our son is unspeakable.

Words cannot express the horror and the fear that his actions have brought upon us and our son. How can one explain to a child that someone deliberately tried to kill him?

How can he now ever trust mankind? How can he not see in every stranger a potential ‘villain’ who could cause him immense pain and suffering? Months of pain, fear and physiotherapy, hours and days spent without talking, without moving and without eating, away from his home, away from his friends and away from his family…

Questions about his future and his health remain unanswered, as well as these questions: ‘Will I be able to walk again?’, ‘When are we going home?’, ‘Will I go back to school, see my friends again?’

What has our life become since the attempted murder of our six-year-old son? After going through the fear of losing him, and being unable to comprehend this gratuitous and senseless act, we are now faced with numerous psychological and material problems.

Our life is in ruins. Since the day of the attack, we have not left our son’s side, following him to all the various hospitals where he has been treated. We spend our days in hospital with our son. Either one of us, or his grandmother, spends the night with him in his room on a camp bed or even a chair.

He is still in a wheelchair today, wears splints on his left arm and both of his legs, and spends his days in a corset moulded to his waist, sat in his wheelchair. He is in permanent restraint…

The nights are always extremely difficult, his sleep is very agitated, he is in pain, he wakes up many times and he cries. We have been so scared of losing him that now it is physically impossible for us to be apart from him more than a few hours, and only when we know a family member is with him…

He said to a psychiatric nurse who asked him about it that he would like to ‘slap’ the man who did this to him. We are extremely worried about the future. From what the doctors said, he has many years of physiotherapy ahead of him, and we have no prospects or plans for the future other than being by his side.

Our son is alive. He is fighting. And that’s all that matters to us. What happened on the roof of the Tate Modern that day is unforgivable. 

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