A Leyland toddler choked to death on a throat sweet after ‘curiosity got the best of him’, an inquest heard.
Three-year-old Cameron Starkie was watching cartoons at his home in Manor House Close, Moss Side, in April this year when he found a packet of Lockets throat lozenges.
Sobbing as she gave evidence at his inquest at Preston Coroner’s Court on Friday, his step mum told how she had left him alone to watch TV as she carried out some housework and took a phone call.
Leanne Holland, who lives with Cameron’s father Christopher Darby at the Leyland address, said she had left the youngster with her daughter Mia, who was asleep and was 10 weeks old at the time, for around 10 minutes on the evening of April 16.
Crying as she stood in the dock, Miss Holland said: “I went back to the front room to tell Cameron it was time to get ready for bed. He was laying on the floor.
“At first I asked what he was doing because sometimes he liked to play a game where he would lay still and then shout ‘rar’. But there was no answer.
“He was laid on his front so I turned him on his side. He wasn’t moving.”
She added: “I noticed a few sweet wrappers, from Lockets, and I looked up on to the side cupboard where I knew they were, and it looked like he had got them and opened them.
“Obviously they were in reach of him, but we never normally had to worry about him getting things off the side.
“I couldn’t see or feel anything in his mouth. I started to panic and called 999.”
A rapid response paramedic was called to the scene at around 8.25pm after being informed that a child was suffering from cardiac arrest.
Miss Holland followed instructions over the phone and attempted CPR on the boy until the paramedic arrived four minutes later. He was taken to Royal Preston Hospital, and the bright yellow sweet was removed from his airways in the ambulance. Resuscitation was attempted for a further 20 minutes while at the hospital, but the toddler was pronounced dead at around 9.25pm. Cameron’s mother, Sinead Starkie, also attended the inquest, and cried as she listened to the evidence. The court heard how Cameron’s father and his partner, Miss Holland, were given custody of Cameron, and their parenting was described as ‘very good’.
Detective Inspector Neil Howarth, from Lancashire Constabulary, confirmed that there was no third party involvement or criminal activity surrounding the little boy’s death, and added that it was a “very, very tragic set of circumstances.”
Coroner Simon Jones, recording a verdict of accidental death, said Cameron had died as a result of hypoxia, a lack of oxygen to the brain, caused by suffocation from the inhalation of a lozenge.
He said: “As with any child, curiosity got the best of him. He saw what I presume he thought was a packet of sweets.
“This is an accident and nothing more.”