Office manager Rachael Fitzgerald woke up at 6am to find three month daughter Lara Maddocks lying unresponsive beside her
A mother has relived the heartbreaking moment she found her 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-month-old 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, near Altrincham, Greater Manchester, may never know the reason for their daughter’s unexpected death.
The couple had been trying for eight years for their first child, and everything fell into place with the birth of their daughter in March of last year.
Born at 40 weeks Lara was described as being the ”perfect little girl with a bigger social life than many adults.” She would regularly be out in her buggy with her mother and was affectionately nicknamed ”Lady Lara.”
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 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. I’m obsessed with suffocation issues and you just go through these things – but nothing was near her.”
Miss Fitzgerald added: ”Lara was amazing, she liked to be in the buggy it was just a nice greyish silver cross as we didn’t know whether we were having a boy or girl – she had everything.”
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.
“She went everywhere with us, she went more places than some people had been in a life time. In the three months, like some of our friends saying where’s Lady Lara lunching today? Was out all the time.”
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 where 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.
”Of course when doing the post mortem we can identify things that we can see either by the nature of evidence or down a microscope. Many people, at all ages – not just babies – but most frequently in babies because of something that’s happened in their body.
“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.
“If it was death due to over heating in the sense that she was very very hot there usually would be features here. But there’s no evidence that that was the case for her.
“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.”
In a statement read to the court family GP Dr Helen Symcox, said: “Lara was born at 40 weeks. Had her first set of immunisations and was seen on June 5, for upper respiratory tract infection and was a bit snuffly. She was active and alert and smiling and her chest was clear.
“On June 25, took her to the surgery with what was thought to be another cold and was a bit snuffly and dribbling a bit. But was drinking her milk and having water so had no concerns.”
The court heard how the GP spoke to her mother about using sun cream and keeping her hydrated and was happy for her to go on holiday.
Recording a conclusion of death by natural causes coroner Alison Mutch told Lara’s parents: “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 had a very short life but clearly a very happy life and was very very well looked after. What we know is that she had a social life that few of us could ever aspire to and was out and about and loved being out and about. She was obviously a very sociable little girl.
“As a family you made the decision to go on holiday and then went to the GP to check they where happy and she was okay for you to go away. It seems like a really lovely place you took her too although memories are very different now.
”It seems like it was a really lovely time till the tragedy happened.
“What also comes across from the evidence that not withstanding the shock of what was happening at that time that you both did the right thing for your daughter. You tried to resuscitate her and called for help straight away and did everything you possible could for your daughter.
“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.
“I express my condolences to you at your loss at this very difficult time I know for all of you as a family. Can only imagine how difficult life is at the moment coming to terms with it. And pass them on to the other family who I am sure miss Lara very much.”
Lara’s parents have raised more than £5,000 towards the Lullaby Trust charity which gives advice about reducing the risk of cot death or sudden infant death syndrome.