Tragedy of baby boy who starved to death in cot two days before mother died

A baby boy starved to death surrounded by soiled nappies and mouldy food in a “filthy” St John’s Wood flat after his mother contracted a rare condition related to HIV that left her unable to care for him.

The 11-month-old, who can only be named as Baby EG for legal reasons, was found dead in his cot with plates of dry cereal that his three-year-old sister had tried to feed to him.

His mother, who also cannot be named, was arrested on suspicion of neglect but died while still in police custody two days later due to a rare brain condition associated with HIV.

Paramedics, who found Baby EG’s body after being alerted by a 999 call from the mother on March 8, 2010, said “it looked like somebody had emptied a bin liner on the floor” and the room smelt of dirty nappies.

A hearing at Westminster Coroner’s Court yesterday (Thursday, April 19) heard Baby EG’s three-year-old sister “had the run of the flat for the last few days” and had been left to fend for both herself and her baby brother.

A post-mortem found Baby EG had starved to death and his stomach was completely empty.

The mother was arrested but quickly rushed to hospital where she was admitted to the high dependency unit and told doctors she had not eaten for two days.

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She was found to have encephalitis – swelling of the brain – associated with her HIV and deteriorated rapidly before dying on March 10, 2010.

A number of social workers and health professionals had been in touch with the family for a period of years leading up to the tragic deaths.

But the court heard they had no concerns about the 29-year-old mother’s care of her two children.

One paediatric physiotherapist, who cannot be named, was the last medical professional to see the family on March 1 before the tragic events. She said there were no signs of what was to happen later that week.

She told the court that when she assessed Baby EG he had “beautiful skin” and was “immaculate”.

Baby EG’s mother was “very proud of her children” and despite appearing low in mood, she was responsive and asked the physio insightful questions.

Breaking down in tears in the witness box, the physio said she was “horrified and shocked” when she learnt of Baby EG’s death seven days after her visit and that of his mother two days later.

“I have played this back and forth for two years saying could something have been done differently,” she said. “I don’t think so.”

Independent consultant Guy Baily told the court it was likely that the mother’s illness would have prevented her from caring for her children.

A jury found Baby EG had died as a result of an accident while his mother had died from natural causes.

- For more see next week’s Wood&Vale out on Thursday, April 26.