According to the wife, the slapping game between the father-son duo was a common thing. The whole incident was just an accident.
An innocent game turned into a tragedy after a father died in an instant, right in front of his teen son. Army veteran Malcolm Callender was encouraging his son Ewan to hit him harder while playing the game of slaps when he fell and hit his head on the road. The incident occurred when the father-son duo was returning home after watching a football match.
During the inquest, the 19-year-old distraught son revealed that he had no intention of killing his father, rather, he was just trying to make him proud. Malcolm was a bursar of prestigious Wellington College and is quite strong. He was the one who began the game when he struck Ewan with a stinging slap on April 12, 2019. He then stood with his hands behind his back and said, "Right, you can have your free shot," reported 7News.
According to the witnesses, Ewan clenched his fists before he delivered the strike which sent Malcolm's head back as it hit the road. The inquest heard, that the Crown Prosecution Service had finally decided not to prosecute Ewan for any offense, after 18 months since Ewan's arrest from the scene.
Dad died when 'game of slaps' with teenage son went tragically wrong https://t.co/1mLnenrwsc— Daily Mirror (@DailyMirror) December 8, 2020
During the inquest, it was revealed that the son, who had also served in the British army for three years, was out with Malcolm and his friends on the day of the incident to watch his father's team play football. The 19-year-old wiped his tears as he entered the witness box to answer the coroner's questions about the fateful night.
Ian Wade QC, assistant coroner for Berkshire noted that the slap should be considered as legal "horseplay." He also warned Ewan that he was free to not answer questions that he felt could incriminate him. The CCTV footage from the bar where the father and son went drinking after the game of football was also viewed where Malcolm could be seen striking his son.
Ewan revealed, “Dad slapped me around the face on the way out just because we were messing around. It is just normal. There was nothing aggressive about it. It was when we were outside near the front door. Me and Luke were gonna stay out, dad was going to go home with his friends."
“We started walking towards the station, we must have been in mid-conversation. He (dad) said, ‘right, you can have your free shot.'" This is when things turned ugly. "I knew exactly what he meant, I get to slap him now. Luke was like, ‘come on, you do not want to do that because you know you are going to lose,'" Ewan continued.
Army veteran bursar at prestigious Wellington College, 48, died after urging his son, 19, to hit him in 'game of slaps' before falling backwards and striking his head on the road— MassiVeMaC (@SchengenStory) December 8, 2020
An Army veteran bursar at Wellington College died after urging his teenage son to hit him pic.twitter.com/8vWZnjNXYI
When the coroner asked him if Malcolm was "persuading" Ewan that "this was not a game that you were likely to win?” the teen replied, “I never win.”
The inquest was told that right after Ewan struck his father, Malcolm fell on the floor outside the bar. The security at the bar and the bystanders rushed to assist him. The stunned teenager was heard screaming “wake up Dad! Dad I love you!” before the police arrested him.
Ewan's mother and wife of Malcolm, Catherine Morrison-Callender revealed that the slapping game was quite common between the father-son duo. "As a family, we would always be messing about with each other and we would be giving each other quick little digs in the ribs which we called ''fingers of steel,'" she said, as per The Daily Mail.
"We would wrestle with each other where we would try to grab the other person and take them to the ground. Another game we would play was slaps. When Ewan was about 15 years old, he and Malcolm would progress to try to slap each other around the face," Catherine added. She also revealed that her husband was "competitive" and so it was difficult for Ewan to win.
Dad ‘killed’ by teen son after smashing his head during ‘game of slaps’ when ‘horseplay’ went wrong. https://t.co/cUcd8vLAr5— ELLIOT IN THE MORNING (@EITMonline) December 9, 2020
The father was rushed to the Royal Berkshire Hospital as he suffered an acute subdural hemorrhage. He passed away the following morning with the cause of death stated as “blunt force trauma to the head.” During the toxicology examination, it was found that Malcolm's drink-drive limit for alcohol twice the legal limit but there were no other substances found in his body.
The inquest concluded that Malcolm died because of “engaging in non-aggressive, not hostile, consensual horseplay.”