RIDDLE OF ‘PERFECT’ BABY GIRL’S DEATH
INQUEST TOLD CAUSE OF TRAGEDY MAY NEVER BE KNOWN
A MOTHER relived the heartbreaking moment she found her ‘perfect’ baby dead in bed in their hotel room during a family holiday to Crete.
Office manager Rachael Fitzgerald woke up at 6am to find three-monthold daughter Lara Maddocks lying unresponsive beside her.
Lara’s father Mark Maddocks tried to revive the youngster but she was pronounced dead at the scene.
Tests were carried out in Greece but experts were unable to establish a cause of death. At an inquest a doctor said Lara’s parents, from Hale, may never know the reason for their daughter’s unexpected death.
The tragedy occurred on July 3 last year after the family checked into the Village Heights Hotel in the Greek resort of Hersonissos. The hearing was told Lara, who her mum described as ‘amazing,’ had recently been treated for symptoms of a cold but otherwise appeared to be in perfect health.
Miss Fitzgerald told the Stockport hearing: “Her last feed that night was about 11pm. About 6am I woke up and I just looked at her though I was facing the other way and turned my head. She was just on her back and just looked very peaceful and normal but I knew that something’s not right. I said ‘Lara, Lara’ but she never normally wakes till about 8am so it was still early really. I didn’t get a response and picked her up and her arm just slipped down and chaos went on from there. Mark grabbed her and tried to resuscitate her. She was warm, she wasn’t blue. It doesn’t make sense.”
Mr Maddocks, a Swissport aircraft dispatcher, said: “We tried so hard for a long time to have a child – for eight years. But in the end it all worked and Lara was so good she slept a lot and didn’t cry – she was perfect.”
Dr Melanie Newbold, a paediatric pathologist from Manchester Royal Children’s Hospital, said: “I was able to say that Lara looked like a perfect little girl and seemed to be well grown for her age and no problems with growth.
“Absolutely no signs of suffocation, no evidence whatsoever that suffocation was involved in her death. No signs of any illness and internal organs were all perfectly normally formed. No evidence of overwhelming sepsis. Some evidence that she might have had a recent cold like almost everybody had. Other than that no positive findings. Signs of cold wouldn’t have caused her to die. Very rare to find evidence of why they have died. It’s not unusual sadly.” She added: “It might just be in the case of a baby just stopping breathing a simple reason. We don’t understand, know that they can take place but can’t identify them at post mortem as there is no evidence that this has happened... We used to call it sudden death syndrome or cot death, we don’t really understand all the factors – might be that we never will.”
Recording a conclusion of death by natural causes, coroner Alison Mutch said: “It’s clear that she had quite a little personality about her. Also came over in the evidence just how well loved and looked after she was.” She added: “There were no suspicious circumstances or third party involvement and evidence of pathologist that her death is from a natural cause that could not be ascertained.”
Rachael Fitzgerald with baby daughter Lara