Sunday, 24 October 2010

SIDS: Australia: Inquest questions, Chapman

   HELEN KEMPTON   |   October 12, 2010 08.08am
THE father of a seven-week-old baby boy who died in 2008 yesterday told an inquest into his death that his estranged wife had described how his son stared into her eyes as she smothered him.
Geoff Chapman, 48, of Burnie, told coroner Olivia McTaggart his wife Katrina had confessed to him that she had smothered their son Lennox Paul Chapman on December 2, 2008.
Mr Chapman told the inquest his wife had told him she had taken the infant to bed and put her hand over his mouth and nose.
"She told me his little eyes kept staring at her, saying, 'What are you doing Mummy'," Mr Chapman said.
"He had the most gorgeous eyes and I knew that she was telling the truth."
The inquest heard Mr Chapman went to the police a few days later.
"I couldn't live with that on my conscience," he told the inquest.
Mr Chapman said he started to question whether his son had died from sudden infant death syndrome after overhearing his mother-in-law telling his wife she needed to stick to her story or face time in jail.
"I was coming in from the front deck when I heard it," he told the inquest in Burnie.
He said his mother had heard the same snippet of conversation as she came into the room with washing.
Mr Chapman told counsel assisting the coroner, Simon Brown, that his wife had given him alternate stories of what had happened on the day their son died.
He told the inquest his wife had phoned him at work on the day of the baby's death.
"She said, 'Lennox is bleeding, he is turning blue and has blood on him'," he told the inquest.
Mr Chapman went home and found his wife kneeling over their son on the tile floor.
"She was sobbing and crying hysterically," he said.
Mr Chapman said he started giving his baby mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
He told Mr Brown the baby was cold and a "funny grey colour". He said he could not hear him breathing.
Mr Chapman said that when the ambulance arrived at their West Ridgley home, Katrina told him she had taken the baby to bed but he was blue when she awoke.
He told the court that a couple of seconds later Katrina said the baby was in his cot and she had found him "blue" when she checked on him.
Mr Chapman said that his wife later talked of dropping the baby in the bath.
He told the inquest that, at first, he had thought the conflicting stories were the result of deep distress.
"It was horrible for both of us. I tried to reassure her that sometimes little bodies just stop," he said.
"I believed it was SIDS and that she was beating herself up. I was warned by medical professionals that both parents often blamed themselves.
"I still wonder what would have happened if I had stayed home that day and not gone to work. I wonder that every single day."
Mr Chapman told the inquest that some of his estranged wife's friends told him that Katrina Chapman had told them that she was responsible for Lennox's death.
The inquest will continue today.

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