Family of Sheffield baby who died on Christmas Eve 'could have been offered more support'

Greater support could have been provided to the parents of a baby boy who tragically died on Christmas Eve, aged just six months, an inquest heard.

Friday, 16th July 2021, 2:40 pm

Tom Houghton and Carly Bonaito's fourth child, Louie Houghton was found unresponsive in his cot at their home in Woodhouse at about 9am on December 24 last year and was later pronounced dead at Sheffield Children's Hospital.

During an inquest hearing today (July 16) at Sheffield Coroner's Court, Assistant Coroner Abigail Combes said two of Louie's elder siblings had suffered injuries such as burns and a fracture between 2018 and 2020, requiring hospital admissions.

She said: "On the basis of the evidence that I've heard, it's clear that Louie's family ought to have been known to children’s services as a result of injuries sustained to other children in the family.

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Despite paramedics' best efforts Louie was pronounced dead at Sheffield Children’s Hospital

"I want to be clear on the basis of the information that I've had access to these were all accidental injuries. Had social care been aware of that information, then there may have been greater support put in place for the family either from the social services or health visiting services."

However, she said she could not say it would make any difference to Louie's case, based on evidence put forward by the pathologist during the previous hearing.

Professor Marta Cohen, the consultant paediatric and perinatal pathologist at Sheffield Children's Hospital, had testified in May that Louie's sudden death could have been partly down to a vitamin D deficiency, based on her post-mortem findings.

Ms Combes added: "Based on the evidence, it is a naturally occurring syndrome and sometimes the cause of that will never be known.

Louie Houghton died on Christmas Eve last year, aged just six months

"However, there are clear risk factors that have increased in Louie's circumstances, which is the sudden infant death syndrome."

She then returned with a narrative conclusion that although the exact cause of Louie's death is still unknown, there are a number of risk factors associated with infant death syndrome including vitamin D deficiency.

The inquest also heard testimonies by Charity Muzondo, an advanced social work practitioner based in Sheffield, and a locality service manager from Sheffield Children’s Foundation who oversees health visits, Keeley Tongue.

Ms Combes offered her condolences to Louie’s parents, who recently had a fifth child.

“I hope now this is done, you can go home be and with the new baby and start putting some new memories in place with the new baby and I’m really sorry that you lost Louie in these circumstances. My condolences,” she said.

The infant, who gave the devastated pair 'unimaginable joy’ during lockdown following his June birth, was discovered by mum Carly as she went to feed him.

It was reported that Carly had settled baby Louie after he began crying at about 6.30am.

However, when she later went to feed him he could not be woken.

Louie’s dad Tom, an ambulance driver, started CPR on his son straight away.

Paramedics continued to try and resuscitate Louie as they rushed him to the hospital, where he was sadly pronounced dead.

Following Louie’s death, a fundraising appeal was also launched on behalf of the family.

Louie's parents and grandparents attended the hearing.