London

Toddler 'drowned' in food after being force-fed by father

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Image caption Jurors at the Old Bailey were told the child must have struggled as he tried to breathe

A toddler's lungs filled with food and he "effectively drowned" when his father force-fed him, the Old Bailey has heard.

The three-year-old was allegedly forced to lie across his father's lap as a porridge-like mixture was poured into his mouth, in November 2015.

The boy must have struggled for release, the court heard.

His 32-year-old father, from north-west London, denies manslaughter and cruelty to a child.

Jurors were told the boy would be fed a blended mixture of bread, milk, Weetabix and oats - with rice pudding or spaghetti sometimes added.

Lungs stuffed with food

The toddler was regularly force-fed and sometimes vomited afterwards, Simon Denison QC, for the prosecution said.

This caused his father, who cannot be named for legal reasons, to become angry and "slap him or send him to bed",

On the final occasion his father called paramedics.

Mr Denison said: "It was very difficult to clear his airway because of the amount of porridge-like substance that was in his throat.

"When CPR was attempted, more of the substance came out."

A post-mortem revealed virtually all sections of his lungs were stuffed with food.

'Kicked and wriggled'

He inhaled, "a large amount of the porridge-like mix into his lungs so that he had, in effect, drowned in his food", Mr Denison said.

"It is alleged that because of the way the youngster would have been laid across his father's lap, he would not have been able to lean forward and cough up any food that went down the wrong way.

"His distress would have been obvious as he kicked and wriggled to try and free himself, and, he being a large three-year-old boy, it would have taken force to restrain him.

"But then as more food went into his airways and into his lungs, he would have been unable to breathe, and he would have gone limp and lost consciousness, with food blocking his lungs and his upper and lower airways," he said.

The trial continues.