Baby Ainslie Smith death inquiry told faulty cot was to blame

Stratford Cot bed safety notice In April 2010, Cosatto issued a safety enhancement device for Stratford cot beds

A court has been told that the death of a baby boy in Fife was caused by a faulty cot.

Six-month-old Ainslie Smith died in July 2009 after he became trapped between the mattress and the side of his cot as he slept at his home in Pitlessie.

Independent safety consultant John Trinsi told a fatal accident inquiry that the cot had a major design defect.

The inquiry at Cupar Sheriff Court continues.

It heard that the baby boy's "sheet white" lifeless body was discovered by his mother, Alexandra Smith, when she went to check on him.

Mrs Smith described how Ainslie's body was wedged vertically - his back was against the slats on the side of the cot and he was facing the mattress.

Start Quote

The death was a result of a safety defect in the cot bed”

End Quote John Trinsi Independent safety consultant

"I had to pull on him," she said. "It was a real effort to get him out."

A post-mortem revealed that he died of asphyxia and a mechanical obstruction of the upper airway.

The inquiry heard how Mrs Smith and her husband, Ainslie, attempted CPR, but they could not revive the eight-month-old child.

Safety expert Mr Trinsi said the Cosatto Stratford cot bed, purchased by the Smith's a month before the death of their son, exhibited a major design defect.

The industry expert, who runs Berkshire-based Consumer Product Safety Advice Ltd, has almost 25 years experience in nursery equipment testing.

He was sent an identical copy of the flat-pack cot by the Crown as part of its investigations.

Mr Trinsi said that he found, during normal day-to-day use, the fixing that held the side of the cot steady could come loose, creating a gap that a child could fall in to.

He added that the flaw should have been picked up during rigorous testing of the product.

"The death was a result of a safety defect in the cot bed," Mr Trinsi said. "The drop-side was insecure, which was discoverable.

Ainslie and Alexandra Smith The court heard that Mr and Mrs Smith tried to revive six-month-old Ainslie

"The cot bed is a dangerous product and produces a serious risk as it can disengage through reasonable use and create head and body entrapment.

"It happened as a result of normal use that anyone who was careful could have done.

"The design of the cot bed was unusual. I have seen dozens of cots that can be turned into beds, but usually the fixings are stiff and the two parts at the split bottom (footboard) do not come apart easily."

Mr Trinsi said that his investigations showed that simply moving the structure to a different location could cause the fixing to come loose and said that, if the side was then kicked by a small child, it would easily come away.

"Nursery products are high risk because you have a very young child who is unsupervised for a long period of time and of an age when it doesn't appreciate or understand risk," he added.

In April 2010, Cosatto issued a safety enhancement device for Stratford cot beds made between 2005 and 2009.

The inquiry also heard that satellite navigation equipment used by paramedics had initially directed them to the wrong cottage, an error that led to them being delayed by an estimated 10 minutes.

The court also heard from Det Con David Bellingham, who was called to the cottage in the early hours of the following morning.

Asked to describe the condition of the cot, he said: "It looked new and in good condition."

The inquiry will continue on Thursday with legal submissions.

Sheriff Charlie Macnair will give his determination in writing at a later date.

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