Twin baby ‘crawled into hot tub and drowned after mum left door open on hot day’
An 18-month-old baby boy drowned in a hot tub after crawling outside while his mum was working from home during the coronavirus lockdown, an inquest heard.
Little Eddie Murphy-Boxall was found unresponsive in the water by his horrified mum Siobhan Murphy, who had left the garden door open on the hot day on June 24 at their home in Worthing, West Sussex.
A coroner said a combination of the hot tub lid being open and the difficulties of caring for children while working from home had led to the “truly heartbreaking situation”.
Dr Karen Henderson, the assistant coroner for West Sussex, who concluded the case was an accident while sitting at Crawley Coroner’s Court, said: “It is by far, every parent’s worst nightmare.”
The inquest heard how Eddie was one of twins who had been born shortly before Christmas on December 17, 2018 and they were the treasured children of Simon Boxall and mother Siobhan.
Mel Doyle, the coroner’s officer for Crawley, said: “When the the national lockdown was enforced due to Covid in March, Siobhan started working from home. Simon returned to work on May 4, leaving Siobhan home-working and looking after the boys alone.”
Mrs Murphy had often worked at night after her children had gone to bed, to fit in her work and child-caring responsibilities, the inquest heard.
On June 24, it was an “extremely hot” day when the mother had two hours of conference calls booked, which she was due to take downstairs, with the back door left open to circulate air and her boys were in the downstairs bedroom, the coroner was told.
Ms Doyle said: “When Siobhan finished her work meeting, she called the boys. Eddie did not come out of the bedroom. Siobhan realised the back door was open and Eddie must have crawled outside.
“She saw the lid of the hot tub was open. She went to the hot tub and found Eddie in the water, unresponsive.”
A member of the public came to assist Mrs Murphy who called 999 at 12.25pm, leading to a helicopter air ambulance to be scrambled to the family home and little Eddie was airlifted to Worthing General Hospital.
He was declared dead, despite the desperate efforts to revive him.
Following a post-mortem examination, Eddie’s cause of death was given as “immersion in water (drowning)” and a police investigation was launched into his death.
Dr Henderson confirmed the results of the major crime investigation found no evidence of any suspicious circumstances surrounding the child’s death, rather she said the report found “there were no concerns of negligence or any risks in terms of the state of the house or the facilities, everything pointed to a loving family that had been left heartbroken and bereft by their loss”.
Concluding the inquest, Dr Henderson said on the balance of probabilities she was satisfied that Eddie’s death was a “tragic accident” and there were no learning opportunities.
The coroner added: “It is quite clearly a truly heartbreaking situation that Eddie, with his brother, was the most wanted child who had throughout his short life been beautifully cared for and was the most treasured possession. He was all things for their parents.
“It is by far every parents worst nightmare but it was through a combination of circumstances that sadly led to Eddie’s death – that the hot tub lid was not closed as was thought, that they were working from home during Covid and the difficulties of combining that with childcare and indeed it was a very hot day – that this allowed, sadly, Eddie to slip out and to climb into the hot tub.
“I cannot for a minute imagine how difficult this has been for Eddie’s parents and for other family and I am so sorry.”
His death was recorded as accidental.