One-year-old Blackpool girl suffocated after falling into box at the end of her bed

A baby girl suffocated to death after falling head-first into a box at the end of her bed.

Tuesday, 14th September 2021, 4:55 am
Ellie Rose Siddall

One-year-old Ellie Rose Siddall became wedged upside-down in the fabric box full of clothes and died there sometime between 4pm on February 7 and the early hours February 8 2019.

She was found by her mum, Louise Siddall, at around 8am.

She called 999, but was 'hysterical' and handed the phone over to Ellie Rose's dad, Luke Dowling, who told services that his daughter was dead.

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Paramedic Brent Kenny described the scene as 'extremely chaotic' when he arrived there shortly after 8.05am.

He said: "Mum was outside, she was screaming, she was very, very upset, screaming that her baby had died."

At an inquest at Blackpool town hall yesterday, the court heard that Ellie Rose had been 'restless' the day before her death and had missed two naps, which Miss Siddall put down to a cold and teething pain.

She was given a dose of Calpol and put to bed at either 4pm or 5pm. Her bedroom door was closed, and she was not checked on by anyone until 8am the next day.

Pathologist Dr Alison Armor determined the 13-month-old had been dead for several hours before her body was found, as rigormortis had set in and extensive hypostasis - the pooling of blood in the body - could be seen.

She said: "In this case, the distribution of hypostasis was in an unusual position. It stained most of the head and face. There were numerous haemorrhages identified within the area of the left side of her face, forehead and left cheek... the left part of the neck, left part of the shoulder, and the left part of the chest."

She added there was almost no hypostasis to be seen in the lower parts of Ellie Rose's body, which was consistent with the baby being trapped in an upside-down position.

She said the cause of death was positional asphyxia, a form of suffocation which occurs when a person ends up in a position which restricts their breathing.

Mr Kenny, who was the first paramedic to arrive at home on Marton Drive, said: "When I went in, Dad was in the kitchen... I asked dad where the baby was and he said upstairs. I don't know if that was upset or anger, but it was very short."

He went upstairs and searched for Ellie Rose before eventually finding her laid on her back on her bed, where she had been placed by Miss Siddall.

He wrapped the baby's body in a blanket and took her downstairs to the ambulance.

Neither Miss Siddall nor Mr Dowling wanted to accompany their daughter to the hospital.

Mr Kenny said: "The scene was extremely chaotic. I wanted Mum to come to the hospital so we could talk to her. I don't think it was the case that she didn't want to come, I think she couldn't come. It was just too much.

"I went out to the ambulance. Mum was still outside, hysterical. I think Dad was still in the kitchen or that area.

"It was just absolutely manic. I got to the ambulance and placed (Ellie Rose) on a stretcher, where I did an ECG, which was to back up my findings that she was deceased."

When quizzed by coroner Alan Wilson about whether it was normal for paramedics to have to search the property for Ellie Rose, instead of being informed of her whereabouts by her parents, he said it was unusual. He said: "I felt Dad could have given more assistance. I don't think Mum would have been capable of it. She was too distressed."

Both Miss Siddall and Mr Dowling were arrested on suspicion of murder following their daughter's death due to the apparent bruising on Ellie Rose's face, but these charges were dropped when further examinations confirmed the marks were caused by hypostasis, and that the baby had no apparent injuries.

Former Lancashire police DCI Eric Halford told the court that there was not sufficient evidence to charge either parent with neglect, as it could not be proved when, during the approximately 14 hours she was left alone, she got into trouble in the box.

Handing down a conclusion of accidental death, Mr Wilson said: "In my opinion, this girl managed to get into a head-down position in that box, and with minimal strength was unable to extracate herself, and subsequently died of positional asphyxia. It's my view that this little girl had been dead for a number of hours before her body was found."

He added: "Ellie Rose was found approximately 14 hours after she was last seen. Had she been sleeping in a cot, then she would have been unlikely to get got into the position in which she was found. I form the view she was in an unsafe sleeping environment.

"I also feel that her recent illness was relevant as it contributed to Mum's thinking that night - as Ellie hadn't had her usual sleeps - about how long she should really leave this child for before checking on her... Although I don't feel this can fully explain why this child was left for that length of time."

Miss Siddall refused to answer the coroner's questions about why she did not check on her daughter for 14 hours under her rights not to incriminate herself.

Ellie Rose's father, Mr Dowling, did not attend the inquest. A spokesman for Blackpool's Voice, Brian Perry, said it was believed he had moved to Ireland and could not be located despite the charity's efforts. Mr Wilson said the court had received no contact from him.

A STATEMENT ON BEHALF OF ELLIE ROSE'S MOTHER SAID:

"Miss Siddall has had a heart-breaking and trying period since her daughter's sad death.

"She is receiving support and wishes that the press now leaves her alone to take in the coroner's findings but above all to now find some comfort in the closure, and now be left alone to grieve properly for her daughter."