Legal Experts Investigating Treatment Of Devastated Woman
The mother of a toddler who was falsely accused of murdering her own son, who died in his sleep two days after being sent home from hospital, has today spoken of her horrific ordeal and her battle to clear her name so she can finally return home.
Alfie Podmore’s mum Abby, 21, says that following her arrest just hours after her son’s death in February this year she returned home only to find that it had been turned into a crime scene, with a white Police tent erected at the front of the house.
Devastated, she has been unable to return home since as some members of the local community wrongly believed that she played some part in Alfie’s death after she was arrested by Police for murder, despite a doctor later confirming that he had died of natural causes and all accusations of wrong doing were dropped.
Now, Abby has called on legal experts at Irwin Mitchell in a bid to investigate the treatment she received from West Midlands Police, who have since apologised to her for their handling of the situation, as well as help further investigating the circumstances surrounding her little boy’s death and whether more could have been done to prevent it.
Alfie, 3, became unwell at nursery and was sent home on February 2 2011. The following day he was taken to Birmingham Children’s Hospital A&E department with a high temperature, left shoulder pain and a rash. He was diagnosed with a gastric illness and prescribed with anti-acid medication.
But two days later Abby, a trainee dental nurse, woke to find that he wasn’t breathing. She tried to resuscitate him but it was too late and when Paramedics arrived he was pronounced dead.
Within only a few hours of Alfie’s death, a devastated Abby was arrested on suspicion of murder and remained in custody overnight. It was only after confirmation from a doctor acting on behalf of HM Coroner for Birmingham, who informed the Police that Alfie had died of natural causes, that her innocence was recognised.
A post-mortem later revealed that he had suffered from pneumonia, a bacterial infection and septicaemia.
Abby Podmore said: “I was still struggling to cope with the news that my little boy had passed away when Police officers came to tell me I was being taken into custody on suspicion of my son’s murder. I wasn’t even allowed to see his body for 10 days after he died.”
Guy Forster, a medical law expert from the Birmingham office of Irwin Mitchell Solicitors, who is representing the family, said: “For Abby the past six months have been unbearable; firstly suffering the unimaginable pain of losing her only child and then being wrongly blamed for his death.
“Although the family accepts that the Police have a duty to investigate all such deaths the appalling manner in which they were treated appears heavy-handed. Abby is now determined to clear her name and make sure that lessons are learnt from her horrific ordeal so that other grieving mums are not exposed to such treatment in the future.
“Chief Superintendent Phil Kay of West Midlands Police has since visited Abby and her family to apologise for the way they were treated. However, having been unable to grieve for Alfie in the normal way they feel this apology is too little too late and that nothing will turn back the clock for them.”
Guy said: “Abby and her partner, who was also arrested, are still suffering as a result of the heavy-handed actions of the Police and feel that they have lost their good name and reputation, with some members of the local community wrongly being led to believe they had some part in Alfie’s death.
“The Birmingham Children’s Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has now confirmed that it is conducting a serious incident investigation into the treatment provided to Alfie before he was discharged.
“A full inquest is now listed to take place on 29 September 2011 at Birmingham Coroners Court, when the family hope they will receive some answers to the many questions they have regarding Alfie’s death.”
Abby Podmore added: “I love my little boy and did the very best I could for him. When he became ill my mother took him to hospital and when I got to the hospital we were later told he had a simple gastric illness and to take him home.
“The Police later told us that things should have been done differently, they apologised and said that Police protocols were not correctly followed but my whole life has been turned upside down because of what happened.
“I haven’t even been able to return home or grieve properly and I wouldn’t want anyone else to suffer as I have. I hope that speaking out will ensure valuable lessons are learnt.”
Abby has now made a formal complaint to the Police and this is being investigated by the Professional Standards Dept.