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Tuesday 22 July 2014

Toddler died after strangling herself on blind cord after mother turned back for one minute

Seventeen-month-old Sophia Parslow's mother had left her watching Peppa Pig when she got her neck caught inside a beaded loop cord and fell over

Published 15/11/2013|06:37

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Sophia Parslow, left, and Chris Parslow and with partner Amanda O'Halloran Photo: SWNS

A toddler strangled herself on a blind cord while trying to retrieve a photo of herself which had fallen behind a curtain, an inquest has heard.

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Sophia Parslow was playing at the family home when she got her neck caught inside a beaded loop cord and fell over.

The 17-month-old had clambered onto the sofa next to the blind after mum Amanda O'Halloran, 22, left her on her own for a few minutes watching Peppa Pig.

It is thought Sophia was trying to retrieve a picture of herself she ''loved" looking at which had fallen off the mantlepiece and landed behind the curtain.

But her head got caught in the noose of the cord and she slipped over and cut off her air supply and hanged herself, the hearing was told.

Mum Amanda had gone upstairs to change and when she came down four minutes later she found the toddler suspended by the blind.

She immediately rang an ambulance and began to carry out CPR but despite 70 minutes of resuscitation by paramedics and hospital staff Sophia died.

In a statement Amanda told inquest in Gloucester: "I saw she was suspended by the neck from the chord of the window blind.

"I picked her up and saw she was unconscious. I gave her a shake to try and wake her but she didn't respond. I could see she had vomited, I called 999 immediately.

"We realised afterwards the picture of Sophia was behind the curtain and Sophia must had tried to get the picture, and knocked over the ornaments as she tried to do so."

The inquest was told Sophia, from Tirley, Glos, was a "normal, inquisitive" toddler who had only learnt to walk three months prior to her death.

She was prone to climbing up things and would often stand on the sofa underneath the window where the blind hung to see her dad, Chris Parslow, 23, return from work.

On the morning of her death, June 27 this year, Amanda and Sophia were preparing to visit Karen, Chris's mother, for the day.

Amanda's statement said: "Sophia needed a nappy change and I needed to dress her before we left so I told her I was going upstairs to get some of her clothes.

"She walked towards me to begin with but stood by the footstool to watch Peppa Pig. I ran upstairs, used the toilet and selected a few clothes, I was no more than four minutes.

"When I came downstairs I panicked because I couldn't hear or see her anywhere, the lounge is a very small area and she couldn't have got into the kitchen because the door was shut. Then I saw her, behind the right-hand curtain."

Amanda attempted CPR on her daughter for ten minutes before paramedics arrived and took over before transferring her to Gloucestershire Royal Hospital.

But, despite specialist treatment from doctors they were still unable to restart her breathing and she was pronounced dead at hospital.

Giving evidence, Detective Sergeant Grant Wheeler said the incident was "undoubtedly a tragic accident".

He added: "Undoubtedly Sophia was left for a matter of minutes while mum went upstairs to get her clothes.

"It is perfectly plausible Sophia could have reached the looped chord on her own and became entangled in it, she used to regularly stand on that chair.

"All our evidence corroborates to say that this was undoubtedly a tragic accident."

Amanda and Chris did not attend the inquest, explaining on a Facebook group set up to campaign for banning the looped blind chords they were "an emotional wreck".

Assistant Gloucestershire coroner Katie Skerrett recorded a conclusion of accidental death.

She told the court: "Blinds are a known safety hazard to small children and no parent ever thinks it will happen to them.

"To these parents this was an almost unimaginable sequence of events, a tragic accident that every parent fears and is a complete nightmare."

Sophia's parents have begun a campaign, Sophia's Cause, an online petition which could force the issue to be debated in Parliament if it gathers 100,000 names.

The tot is the 28th person known to have been strangled in this way in the UK since 1999.

An update on their Facebook page said: "I hate how it has been dragged out but it's just one of those formalities.

"Christopher and I have decided we are not going to attend the inquest, we are not required to go anyway, it was a hard decision but one I think is for the best.

"We know everything that is going to be said, I am an emotional wreck right now and don't think I'd be able to hold myself together."

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