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My heart goes out to tragic mum Joanne Pedlow haunted by nightmare

By Suzanne Breen

Published 24/02/2016

Joanne Pedlow with her children Lily and Alex
Joanne Pedlow with her children Lily and Alex
Little Alex McCartney

Every hour of every day she will replay the sequence of events in her head. Joanne Pedlow will see her children playing in the snow, their wee faces shining with happiness, totally oblivious to the horror that lay ahead.

She will hear herself call them indoors as darkness fell, and usher them upstairs for their evening bath.

She will watch herself pour in the bubble bath and place baby Alex in his bath seat. She will have told Lily not to splash her little brother.

Then Joanne will see herself make that fateful decision, heading downstairs to boil a kettle of water. Time and time again, she will wish she could undo that.

She will be haunted by her split-second choice. She will torture herself with endless 'could have, should have, would haves' that involve her staying in the bathroom and rescuing little Alex when his seat toppled over.

Yesterday the coroner said this death highlighted the dangers of leaving a child unsupervised for even a short period of time in shallow water.

She is, of course, right, but nobody should dare point a finger at Joanne Pedlow. As parents, none of us are perfect. We all make mistakes, we all take our eye off the ball sometimes. Thankfully, we rarely pay the price.

It has happened to me. Lumbering a pram and bags out of my mother's house, my youngest daughter Sorcha - then two - making a mad dash towards the busy road and just managing to scoop her into my arms before she stepped off the pavement.

Taking my eye momentarily off my eldest Alanna - then three - as I negotiated supermarket aisles with a full trolley, only to turn around and find her gone. Snatching a small toy from Sorcha's mouth the other day which, seconds later, could have choked her.

I can only imagine the fear and hysteria gripping Joanne as frantic efforts were made to save her son's life. Those scenes will be etched in her mind until the day she dies.

Baby Alex lost his life when it had barely begun. Joanne is robbed of all those magic moments - his first steps, his first words, seeing him learn to ride a bike.

I don't know how she finds the courage to cope. I know that if I ever had to place teddy bears or dolls in a wee white coffin, I would not be able to go on.

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