Belfast Telegraph

'Claire was the heartbeat of our family, those responsible should be ashamed'

Claire Roberts
Claire Roberts
Lauren Harte

By Lauren Harte

The parents of Claire Roberts said those responsible for their daughter's care should "hang their heads in shame".

Alan and Jennifer Roberts were speaking after an inquest found that the nine-year-old's death in October 1996 was caused by the treatment she received in hospital.

Outside Laganside courthouse, Mr and Mrs Roberts welcomed the coroner's findings but said the public can have "no confidence in patient safety" in Northern Ireland.

Mr Roberts said that after a two decade wait the inquest had finally delivered the truth about how their daughter died.

"We would like to thank the coroner for reaching a verdict after 22 years of cover-up that finally identifies the truth.

"The coroner has confirmed an unnatural cause of death.

"We have known as a family since 2004 the true cause of death - this has not been news to us but the coroner reaffirming what we have always known.

"This is an unprecedented situation where a coroner will be issuing a third death certificate and overturning the initial 2004 inquest verdict.

"The travesty of all of that is that we have had to go through a 15-year process culminating today in the coroner being absolutely clear cut and definitive about the cause of death."

Mr Roberts also issued a demand to health officials for accountability, saying those responsible for failings in his daughter's care should "hang your heads in shame."

Mrs Roberts broke down in tears as she remembered her daughter as "a beautiful, happy and energetic little nine-year-old girl" and said she was "relieved" by the findings.

"I talk to Claire every day and I know she would be proud of her mummy and daddy.

"What I want to hear her saying to me today is 'mummy thank you and I love you'," she said.

Claire's older brother Gareth spoke of his immense pride for his parents for "their unwavering dedication in establishing the truth".

He said Claire had been the "heartbeat" of his family.

"She was an absolutely beautiful and fun-loving child who will remain in my heart for as long as I live," he added.

"I have been coping with this since I was a 13-year-old boy.

"We have been robbed of a lot of things but they can never take Claire away from us and as my mother said yesterday, love never dies."

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