A coroner warned against the potential dangers of bunk beds yesterday after hearing how a four-year-old died after rolling off the mattress in his sleep.
Daniel McGarry was found hanging between the bed and the adjacent wall.
The metal bunk bed had originally been fitted with barriers on both sides, but one was omitted when relatives re-assembled it at his home in Maryport, Cumbria.
Recording a verdict of accidental death, David Roberts said: “If there is a wider message to be passed out, it would be to check that bunk beds are properly constructed.
“Parents should also ensure that barriers are placed on both sides. They can’t rely on the wall alone being adequate protection to stop a child slipping down and falling from the bed”.
Despite his warning, Mr Roberts said that even if both barriers had been fitted in Daniel’s case he might still have become trapped.
The hearing in Workington was told that the bunk bed had originally belonged to one of Daniel’s aunts.
But when she passed it on to the child’s mother, Kerry Holding, the wall-side barrier was not fitted.
Relatives were unsure what had happened to it but thought that since the bed was pushed up against a wall any child using it would be safe.
On February 15 Daniel originally went to bed in his own room, but was later moved to the bunk bed.
Miss Holding went out at about 9pm, leaving her in the care of a 15-year-old babysitter.
She discovered her son in a collapsed state when she returned about an hour later.
Having pulled him away from where he was lodged against the wall, she carried him to a neighbouring house where Christine Scholey, a trained first aider, tried to resuscitate him while an ambulance was dispatched.
Despite further attempts by paramedics and doctors to revive Daniel, he was pronounced dead at the West Cumberland Hospital.
A post mortem examination determined the cause of death as hanging.
Mr Roberts said the child had probably rolled off the bed in his sleep and was unlikely to have suffered. He probably died quickly, he added, so the “valiant” efforts to save him were in vain.
Miss Holding said in a statement: “Daniel was my first son who I love dearly. He was a gorgeous little boy with his cheeky smile who everyone loved.”
She added: “I am still very devastated at the loss of my son."
Miss Holding endorsed the coroner’s warning, urging other parents to ensure that the barriers on their children’s bunk beds were secure”.