Dead girl: uncle avoids prosecution
The uncle of a four-year-old autistic girl who died from salt poisoning will not face prosecution, a coroner's court has been told.
The inquest of Lindsey Angela Alvarez was halted in dramatic fashion last year when coroner Jim Kitson referred the case to prosecutors.
The Filipino child was being looked after by her uncle Michael Valdaramma in his flat in Dundonald when she fell ill in August 2009. She was taken to hospital but later died from hypernatraemia due to ingestion of excess salt.
The inquest was halted last June after an expert witness expressed doubt the child could have voluntarily eaten or drunk the volume of salt found in her body. Mr Valdaramma denied doing anything to harm his niece.
Mr Kitson directed that the case be referred to the Public Prosecution Service for assessment. The PPS had already ruled out a prosecution on a previous review of the circumstances.
Belfast Coroner's Court today heard that the PPS had again directed no prosecution should be taken.
Coroner John Leckey, who has taken on the case as Mr Kitson is currently off work due to ill health, told the preliminary hearing of the PPS decision
"I understand this was the second time the PPS considered the papers and their decision remained there wouldn't be a prosecution," he said. "Presumably that is because the evidential standard had not been met."
The inquest is now set to resume later in the summer, when medical experts professor Michael Fitzgerald from Dublin and Belfast-based Professor Ian Young are due to give evidence.
Lindsey's mother Amelda Alvarez, who is a nurse, has lost two children in tragic circumstances. Her two-year-old son Rham was killed in Dundonald in December 2012 when a parked car without the handbrake on careered down a hill into his buggy.