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Child salt poison inquest is halted after coroner felt an 'offence may have been committed'


General view of the Ulster Hospital

General view of the Ulster Hospital

General view of the Ulster Hospital

An inquest into how four-year-old girl died from salt poisoning was halted today after a coroner said he 'felt an offence may have been committed'.

Coroner Jim Kitson said he was "duty bound" to halt the inquest into how Filipino girl Lindsey Angela Alvarez died, and that as a result of the evidence he has heard this week, he will be filing a report to the Public Prosecution Service.

His decision came after he heard evidence from one doctor that Lindsey must have been "forced" to ingest more than seven and a half teaspoons of salt.

Giving evidence at the inquest into the death of the girl in August 2009, sodium expert and consultant paediatric pathologist Dr Duncan Coulthard described how Lindsey Angela Alvarez had "extremely high sodium levels in her blood" when she was admitted to the Ulster Hospital.

"The only mechanism I believe that could have caused that was by ingesting an excess of salt and the only mechanism I can postulate was that that was forced upon her," Dr Coulthard said.

He told lawyer David Sharpe: "I cannot accept the possibility that she took this voluntarily."

Severely autistic Lindsey was rushed to the Ulster Hospital suffering from breathing difficulties, vomiting and diarrhoea on July 29, 2009 before being transferred to the Intensive Care Unit at the Children's Hospital where she tragically died from hypernatraemia as a result of salt poisoning on August 4.    

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The inquest being conducted by Coroner Jim Kitson has already heard evidence that on the day she fell ill, Lindsey was being looked after by her uncle Michael Valderama at his flat at Ardara Mews in Dundonald, when her mother Amelda Alvarez and aunt Mylin Valderama had gone to work as nurses at the nearby Ulster Hospital.

All three adults have denied giving the girl either salt or a salty drink.

There has also been evidence from pathologist Dr Peter Ingram that when he examined Lindsey's body, he found multiple rib fractures and finger tip type bruises at the back of her neck as if she had been firmly grasped.


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