Belfast Telegraph

Baby boy died in his father's arms as he was being cuddled

BY JACK BRENNAN

A two-month old baby died in his father's arms after suffering sudden unexpected death in infancy, an inquest has heard.

Callum Thai Jess was being cuddled by his father Stuart Jess on the sofa, before his distraught parents discovered he had passed away.

The infant was pronounced dead upon arrival at Royal Victoria Children Hospital shortly before midday on August 24, 2008.

The baby's mother, Heidi McCormack, recalled the tragic moment when she walked in to the living room to discover her partner and the lifeless Callum.

Ms McCormick told the inquest sitting at the Old Town Hall, Belfast she immediately knew something was wrong with her son.

"Maybe it was mother's instinct or something," she said.

She called an ambulance and then both her and her partner attempted to resuscitate their son.

She said: "We were probably quite frantic when we were doing it."

The court heard how baby Callum had haemorrhaging marks on his skin, as well as white spots on his chest and face, which were all possible injuries consistent with asphyxiation.

However the coroner ruled that this was not the cause of death.

The couple had been enjoying a night out at a restaurant the evening prior to their son's death, before arriving home before 11pm.

They said that Callum had not awoken during the meal or when he was brought back to the house.

Both Ms McCormick and Mr Jess had consumed alcohol once they arrived home with Mr Jess's brother and his partner.

Ms McCormick went to bed around 4am, leaving Mr Jess on the sofa with baby Callum asleep in his swing chair.

Mr Jess had been watching TV on the sofa when he picked up his son from his swing chair in the morning to cuddle him.

"He looked like he was sleeping, I lifted him because it was cold," he said.

Dr Caroline Gannon, a pathologist with over 22 years experience, was asked if she thought it was possible that Mr Jess could have lifted Callum from his chair without realising he was dead.

Dr Gannon said she thought this was an unlikely scenario.

She was then asked if she believed Callum's death may have been influenced by the fact he was cuddled on the sofa by Mr Jess. She said there was a strong possibility this could be the case.

Coroner Suzanne Anderson ruled that baby Callum's death was a Sudden Unexplained Death in Infancy. A statement issued by the family said that it welcomed the finding.

FACTFILE

How to help prevent SUDI/SIDS

  • Put your baby to sleep on their back with their face up. A baby's breathing works best in this position.
  • Ensure your baby's face is clear of bedding. Avoid using pillows and bumper pads; don't put baby down on soft surfaces; make sure there are no loose blankets; remove any cords from bedding; ensure there are no gaps in their bed.
  • Your baby is safest in their own bed (cot or bassinette) and in the same room as their parent/caregiver.
  • Babies shouldn't sleep in bed with another person.
  • Your baby shouldn't be exposed to smoking at any time.

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