Belfast Telegraph

Jamie was fast asleep snuggled up with teddy, a short time later he was dead

By Claire Williamson

A stepfather has told of the "hardest moment of his life" when he saw his baby stepson for the last time after he was rushed to hospital foaming at the mouth.

Jamie Thomas Wright McGee's family wept as they heard evidence at the inquest into his death yesterday.

The 17-month-year-old boy had been a relatively healthy child, apart from some problems with reflux and "failure to thrive", but as he got older these difficulties began to recede.

A health visitor told the court the little boy had been "meeting his developmental milestones". She agreed with the coroner that to all intents and purposes he was a "normal" baby.

The family was known to social services but the court heard that Jamie's mum Brenda McGee (22) and stepdad Kieran Wright (23) had actively sought help as well as having been offered it.

They had suffered some personal and accommodation difficulties and had only been in their Parkgate Parade home in Belfast for around a month before tragedy struck.

On the weekend little Jamie died he had been staying with his godparents and brother. They would often help out to give the young parents, who are no longer together, a break.

When Jamie returned on Sunday, June 16, 2013, his mum described him as "grouchy".

He had not had a nap so she took him to his cot at 2pm. At 4pm she checked on him and he was still sleeping. Brenda described this as "unusual".

After checking him again, Brenda left the house with her other son and Jamie was left in the care of Mr wright. The court heard that Jamie knew him as his dad.

While Jamie slept, Mr Wright checked him a number of times and on each occasion he seemed "OK." At one stage Mr Wright's father phoned and baby Jamie spoke to him down the telephone.

"Jamie was saying, 'da da da'. He seemed OK at this time," he said.

Jamie's room was cold so Mr Wright put a heater in to "take the chill off."

At around 2am Mr Wright said he heard him "waffling away".

He changed him, turned the heater down, read him a story and left the baby asleep.

The next morning Jamie was still sleeping "peacefully", snuggled into his teddy bear.

Mr Wright checked on him several times between 10am and 2pm and he was still asleep.

"I put my hand on his head to make sure he didn't have a fever," Mr Wright said.

Then, at 2pm, everything changed.

"I was about to wake him when I heard a weird noise," said Mr Wright. "It's hard to explain... like a moaning noise."

"I went in and he was lying face down with his arms through the bars of the cot.

"He was purple. I lifted him up – he was foaming at the mouth."

Mr Wright called an ambulance and they instructed him over the phone until they got there.

Jamie was rushed to the Royal Victoria Hospital for Sick Children. Brenda received the devastating phone call on her way home.

In a statement she said: "Kieran came on the phone and told me, 'Jamie's dead.' He just blurted the words out. I dropped the phone."

She went to the house picked up the teddy bear Jamie always slept with and went to the hospital.

Mr Wright said: "They came in and told me there was nothing else they could do.

"I went in to see Jamie one more time and it was the hardest thing I have ever had to do."

They wept as coroner Jim Kitson determined it was a "sudden unexpected death in infancy due to Bronchopneumonia".

"In the paediatric pathologist's summary, she stated that infants may have a serious infection with few signs or symptoms and may present with sudden collapse, as in this case," he said.

Mr Kitson offered condolences to Jamie's mum and family. He called it "a dreadful event which befell you and your child".

Quotes

"The children of heaven are clothed in white, happy at play in the city of light.

"Jesus came smiling from the beautiful land and said, 'come little Jamie and give me your hand'. Forever in our hearts little man!"

Mother Brenda's tribute to Jamie

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph