AN EIGHT-month-old baby died in a freak accident when she got trapped in a bunk bed.
Olivia Leigh Picton was found dead at her Burnley home, trapped between the bunk bed ladder and the mattress, when her father went to check on her.
At an inquest yesterday, her parents called for changes to the advice given to parents over when children should be put in their own beds. The Burnley hearing was told how dad David Picton found Olivia trapped at their home on Rydal Street on the morning of December 17 last year.
An ambulance was called immediately, and Olivia was taken to Royal Blackburn Hospital, but nothing could be done to save her.
Speaking at the hearing, Olivia’s mother Katie Ross said the couple had decided to put Olivia in her own bedroom after older sister Ella Mae, now three, developed difficulties sleeping alone.
She told the inquest: “I didn’t put her (Ella Mae) in her own room and she got too attached to us. She wasn’t in the best routine.
“I wanted Olivia to be different. I wanted her to be in a routine and she was.“ At the hearing, Olivia was described as a ‘happy child’ who ‘never cried’.
She had been sleeping in the bottom bunk bed for around two months, and the inquest was told that Olivia slept better in the bed than she did in a cot in her parents’ bedroom.
Her mother had discussed Olivia’s sleeping arrangements with her health visitor, who advised her that babies should be sleeping in their own beds from the age of six months.
Olivia’s bed was pushed up against the wall and fitted with a ‘bed brace’ to stop her from falling out.
The inquest was also told that Olivia’s pillow was always placed at the opposite end of the bed to the ladder.
Her mother said: “She was doing really well. She found it easier to fall asleep in that bed than her travel cot.”
The inquest was told that Olivia’s parents wanted her death to raise awareness of the dangers of putting children in a bed, and they hoped other parents would keep their children in a cot or travel cot until they were older.
Olivia’s father said the couple wanted to ‘spread the word a little to other parents’ and ‘maybe change the age of putting kids in their own bed’, while her mother said she wanted to warn other parents that bed braces could be dangerous.
Giving evidence, forensic pathologist Dr Naomi Carter said Olivia’s injuries were entirely consistent with the account given by her parents of how she was found, and there were no signs of abuse or neglect.
She told the inquest that Olivia had died from ‘suspension by the neck’, and that a number of minor injuries found on her neck and shoulders could be attributed to the accident.
Recording a verdict of accidental death, East Lancashire coroner Richard Taylor said he believed that at the time, the couple thought that what they were doing was right, although with hindsight they may know differently.
He said: “There is nothing I can say that will make this any better at all.
“You were doing what you thought at the time was right.
“I don’t think you can apportion any blame to yourselves whatsoever.
“I have little doubt it is accidental death. This is nothing more, nothing less than a tragic accident.”