Weeping mother tells of dryer death
A mother wept as she told an inquest how her four-year-old son died in a tumble dryer after he set the timer himself and the door slammed shut.
Anne Gibson discovered Sonny inside the machine at the family home in Ashbourne, Derbyshire, on July 26 last year.
She found the toddler when she came home after spending the night at a friend's house, because she had had a few too many drinks. She broke down in tears as she described her frantic search for her "very independent" child in the morning.
He had been left in the care of teenage family members and was put to bed the night before, the inquest at Derby Coroner's Court heard.
Delivering a verdict of accidental death, Deputy Coroner Louise Pinder said: "Sonny was a very lively little boy and could, on occasion, be quite mischievous. He loved to hide and hide and seek was a game he was fond of. He had demonstrated an attraction to the tumble dryer in the past."
Mrs Gibson said she rang the police after 30 minutes of searching the usual places Sonny liked to hide, such as behind the settee, under beds and in wardrobes.
She said: "I don't know what made me look in the washing machine, and then I opened the tumble dryer door and he was there."
She said Sonny learned how to operate the tumble dryer from watching other family members and liked to put his favourite blanket in there to warm it up. The inquest heard a piece of cloth found in the tumble dryer with Sonny was part of his blanket.
Mrs Gibson said she thought the door could have either bounced shut as he got in or one of the two dogs knocked it shut. The coroner agreed, but said it was impossible to know why Sonny had climbed into the Proline TDV60.
Ms Pinder said she was satisfied with the measures the Gibson family took to ensure Sonny's safety, but that the care arrangements were "traditional but, I think, fairly haphazard". She added: "It's not relevant that you, Mrs Gibson, decided to stay out but I've no doubt that the decision to do so will haunt you for a long time to come."