Tuesday 20 February 2018

Baby fall death: Window restrictions were 'flimsy'

Emmanuelle Pereira Kus with 21-month old Sebastian
Emmanuelle Pereira Kus with 21-month old Sebastian

Gareth Naughton

THE father of an infant who fell to his death from an apartment block has said he would not wish what he is going through on his worst enemy.

Following the inquest into his son’s death Kamil Kus called on the management company in charge of The Tramyard apartment complex in Inchicore, Dublin 8, to take measures to prevent another death like his son’s.


“I really don’t want anyone to feel the same as we do right now. I would not wish it on my worst enemy,” he said.


Baby Sebastian Pereira Kus was just 21-months-old when he fell 16 metres to the ground from a fourth floor apartment at the complex on April 25 last year.


Dublin Coroner’s Court heard he pushed open a window despite safety restrictors designed to prevent it widening more than a few centimetres. Gardaí described the restrictors as “flimsy” and easily dislodged.


His mother Emmanuele Pereira Kus said she put Sebastian to bed, which was against the wall underneath the window ledge, at 9.30am making sure the window handles were closed and shutting the curtains.


She was in the adjacent sitting room and only became aware that something was wrong 30 minutes later when a firefighter called to her door. She ran in to check on Sebastian.


“He wasn’t in his bed and the bedroom window was open. I ran over to the window, I looked out and I saw Sebastian lying on the ground below,” she said.


The alarm had been raised by a neighbour who noticed a child lying on the ground with his body “crumpled”.


He was taken to Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital in Crumlin where he died later that day from severe head injuries sustained in the fall.


Mrs Pereira Kus said that following the accident she tried to re-enact how Sebastian pushed open the window and sometimes the safety restrictors would “pop up”.


“Sebastian was a very smart child. He was always exploring, trying to learn everything. He loved music and especially loved to dance. He was very cuddly and always giving me hugs and kisses,” she said.


The couple’s landlady Elizabeth Laffan said that when she let them the apartment four months earlier “all safety catches were working on all windows" and she had shown the couple how to use them.


No key was provided to lock the windows, the court heard.


Scenes of crime examiners found that the safety restrictors were faulty. Garda Mark Holohan said that they were "not robust" and looked “flimsy”. 


Coroner Dr Brian Farrell noted that the windows had not been child proofed and the safety restrictors appeared “very fragile”.  “Their suitability must be questioned,” he said.


It is not the first time the court has heard an inquest where a child has died as a result of unsafe windows, he said.


“I would appeal to all landlords of tenants with children to ensure that child proofing is addressed,” he said.


He returned a verdict of death by misadventure. He will write to the management company – identified in court by Ms Laffan as Keenan Management – recommending that it addresses the issues raised during the inquest.


Speaking following the inquest, Mr Kus said that the couple are currently expecting another son.


“We are thinking how he would have played with Sebastian. How good he would be for him and would have looked after him. It is always going to be on your mind, it is like a scar for your life and you cannot erase it,” he said.

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