South East Wales

Window blind cord strangled Josh Wakeham in accidental death

A coroner has warned parents of the dangers of window blinds after a toddler was strangled by a cord.

Josh Wakeham, nearly two years old, became entangled as he looked out of his bedroom window in Newport.

He was found dead by his mother who checked on him after putting him to bed for the evening.

Recording a verdict of accidental death, Gwent coroner David Bowen said it was "not reasonable" for parents to monitor their children 24 hours a day.

The inquest heard that the "active and inquisitive" boy was the third child to die in Britain this year after becoming entangled in a roller blind cord.

His mother, Tracey Ford, 34, was said to be too distressed to attend the inquest.

But in a statement read to the court, she said: "There was a blackout blind on the window which was there when we moved in.

"He loved to wave to people and I never saw him play with the string on the blind.

"I put him to bed that night with his toys and turned on the nightlight to let him settle."

After putting her son to bed at around 18:00 GMT, Ms Ford went downstairs and had a meal with her partner Tim Llewellin, who left at around 21:15 GMT.

She went back upstairs to check on Josh and immediately realised something was wrong.

"I could see he was stood up and it looked like he was looking out of the window," she said.

"I then saw that the cord was around his neck. When I touched him he felt cold.

"I dialled 999 and they gave me instructions to give him mouth-to-mouth.

"I tried, I really tried. But he was cold."

Det Sgt Wendy Keeping told the inquest that the house was well kept and well presented, and that Ms Ford was a caring mother.

She said ambulance crews who arrived at the scene thought Josh had already died but took him to the Royal Gwent Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Ms Keeping added that it was the third death in the UK this year involving young children with roller blinds.

"Joshua was nearly two and he would not have known of the dangers at all," she said.

"He became trapped in it and was not old enough to recognise the danger."

Image caption Josh's mother Tracey Ford has since left the home where he died

A post mortem examination found that the youngster had died as a result of strangulation from the cord.

Gwent coroner David Bowen recorded a verdict of accidental death.

He said: "Joshua was a normal, active, healthy, inquisitive child who liked nothing better than standing at his bedroom window waving at members of the public as they walked past.

"He would stand in the window whether it was day or night.

"He became entangled in the cord and would not have recognised the danger - he was much too young to release himself.

He added: "It is not reasonable for any parent to monitor their children 24 hours a day but I hope this tragedy will serve as a warning to all parents that all children are naturally inquisitive whatever their age, and that all must be done to ensure that all potential hazards must be out of reach."

Michael Corley, spokesman for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, said they were campaigning to raise awareness of the dangers of roller blinds.

"There have been 22 deaths caused by blind cords since 1999," he said.

"Eleven of these have happened since the beginning of 2010. This is far too high.

"We are calling for laws to reduce the risks of looped cords by placing safety devices in them or by getting rid of them altogether."

The family's MP Paul Flynn has raised an early day motion in the House of Commons to call on blind manufacturers to bring in safety features.

"The case is heart breaking," said the Newport West MP.

"The industry should bring out safer cords. There's new regulations coming in from Europe within a year but there will still be a problem with existing cords.

"We are asking the government to start a campaign to make everyone knows of the dangers."