Coroner's warning as baby dies after sleeping with mum
A coroner yesterday warned about the dangers of sleeping in the same bed as a baby after hearing details of the tragic death of a five-month-old girl.
Charli Belle Doherty, from Greysteel, Co Londonderry, was found struggling to breathe after dozing off with her mother, Eileen Whoriskey, in January last year.
She was taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital, but her condition deteriorated and she passed away five days later.
At a Coroners Court hearing in Belfast, Charli Belle's mother and father, Neil Doherty, fought back tears as they gave evidence.
The court was told that Ms Whoriskey went out for her hen night on January 10 while Mr Doherty looked after their child, and that she drank a bottle of wine over the course of the evening.
Mr Doherty drove into Derry to pick her up around 2am, and when they got home Ms Whoriskey had tea and sandwiches before taking Charli to bed at 3.30am. Mr Doherty, meanwhile, stayed up and fell asleep on the sofa.
After waking at approximately 6.15am, he went to the bedroom and was alarmed to find he could not see his daughter, who had been placed on her back with a quilt up to her waist.
Mr Doherty then pulled back the covers and saw Charli Belle struggling to breathe and "flopping like a rag-doll".
He performed CPR on his daughter while his partner waited for an ambulance to take the little girl to Altnagelvin Hospital, where resuscitation attempts continued.
Charli Belle was later transferred to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast, where she was sedated.
During her stay, she began to suffer seizures, after which her condition rapidly deteriorated. The child's life support system was switched off on January 16.
Addressing the inquest, a tearful Ms Whoriskey said: "I just want to stress that Charli was always in with me because she wouldn't sleep in her own bed and she was loved so much. Our bed was really like her bed."
Mr Doherty comforted his partner in the courtroom throughout the inquest, at which a statement he made last year was read out.
It said: "I did not feel Eileen was tipsy or drunk that night. If I had thought she was, I would most definitely have said because that's the type of me."
Coroner Suzanne Anderson said that the cause of death "remains unascertained, although it is not possible to completely exclude hypothermia or C02 rebreathing".
Offering her condolences to the parents, she added: "I accept completely your evidence.
"Charli was very much a loved and cared-for baby, and it has been an absolute tragedy for you as a couple to have lost her in this way."
She added there was "a lesson to be learned here - just to be careful about taking babies into bed, especially if you've had a few drinks prior to doing that".
The couple were too upset to speak at length after the inquest concluded.
They only said they hoped their heartbreak would make others think about the dangers of sleeping in the same bed as a baby.