'We can finally grieve for our beautiful baby boy', say parents of little Shea
The parents of a four-week-old baby boy from Carrickfergus who died a year ago have said they "can now start to grieve for our beautiful baby boy" after his inquest finished yesterday.
Shea Morrissey was just a month old when he died on November 22, 2015. His parents had previously believed his death was caused by an MRSA infection, but this was found to be untrue.
The coroner Joe McCrisken said that Shea was a "vulnerable baby" who was born prematurely and underweight at 39 weeks.
He ruled the infant died from a combination of an infection, Staphylococcus Aureus, and that co-sleeping in bed with his parents may have played a ro le.
Mr McCrisken added his condolences and said that it was fully accepted that baby Shea was well looked after and many parents had fallen asleep with their baby, but without the same tragic consequences.
The court heard evidence from Shea's father Sam Morrissey (21) and mother Louise Lynn (30).
Two weeks before his death he had cold-like symptoms and was taken to his GP on November 11 and to a health centre on November 18.
Neither visit revealed any serious cause for concern.
On November 21, his parents had placed him in a Moses basket for the night beside their bed.
Mr Morrissey woke three times to feed him, noticing he was not feeding as well as usual.
At 5.30am he had been unable to settle Shea and took him into bed to rest on his chest, intending to put him back into the basket.
Unintentionally, he fell asleep.
When Ms Lynn woke between 9.30am and 10am, she noticed her baby was now lying lifeless on the mattress.
"I heard Shea stir during the night and Sam get up, I could hear him talking to him when he was feeding him," she told the court. "I woke with my phone ringing and I could hear the church bells (outside). As soon as I turned round I saw Shea and just dropped the phone.
"I lifted him straight away and immediately I just knew, he was grey."
In tears she added: "It had been a very exhausting long week. Shea had been up and down and unsettled.
"Sam just brought him into his arms, he always did.
"He would settle him and put him back in his Moses basket, but that night he just fell asleep."
Pathologist Dr Caroline Gannon said a combination of three factors had created "a perfect storm" which led to the infant's death.
She said that baby Shea had "inherent vulnerabilities" as a premature baby, had developed an infection and was in quite a dangerous co-sleeping environment.
"I do appreciate it's extremely difficult for any parent to hear they put their baby into a compromised position and it was purely out of love and concern for their baby, it was just a horrible accident," she said.
She also confirmed to the parents: "This baby did not have MRSA."
Speaking afterwards, Mr Morrissey said that baby Shea would "never be forgotten" by his parents.
"I would like people to remember him as he was, our wee ducky. And just remember that time's precious."
Ms Lynn said: "I'm glad it's over, we've finally got the answers and now we can start to move on and grieve."
She encouraged other mothers of premature babies to be aware of some of the extra health risks.
"They're susceptible to a lot more," she explained. "Even co-sleeping when you're tired, everybody does it."
She added: "Let my baby Shea have a legacy, I wouldn't want this happening to anybody else so if anybody can take something from this take it, learn from it."