Mum found ‘perfect little’ baby girl dead in hotel room on family holiday to Crete
Jan. 13, 2020
A couple who had been trying to conceive for eight years spoke of their heartbreaking loss after waking up to find their ‘perfect’ baby girl dead while on holiday.
Office manager Rachael Fitzgerald woke up at 6am during the family getaway to Crete to find three-month-old daughter Lara Maddocks lying unresponsive beside her.
Lara’s father Mark Maddocks tried to revive the baby girl but she died at the hotel on the Greek island with local experts unable to establish a cause of death.
Now the family may never know the reason for their daughter’s unexpected death, a doctor said at Lara’s inquest said.
The couple, from Hale near Altricham in Greater Manchester, welcomed baby Lara into the world in March last year and called her the ‘perfect little girl with a bigger social life than many adults’.
But their lives were turned upside down on July 3 last year after the family checked into the Village Heights Hotel in the tourist resort of Hersonissos.
Manchester South Coroner’s Court was told this week that Lara had been treated from common cold for symptoms shortly before going on holiday but was in perfect health and given the all-clear to travel.
Rachael told the hearing: ‘Her last feed that night was about 11pm. About 6am I woke up and I just looked at her though I was facing the other way and turned my head. She was just on her back and just looked very peaceful and normal but I knew that something’s not right .
‘I said “Lara, Lara” but she never normally wakes till about 8am so it was still early really.
‘I didn’t get a response and picked her up and her arm just slipped down and chaos went on from there.
‘Mark grabbed her and tried to resuscitate her. She was warm she wasn’t blue.
‘It doesn’t make sense. I’m obsessed with suffocation issues and you just go through these things – but nothing was near her.’
Mr Maddocks, a Swissport aircraft dispatcher, said: ‘We tried so hard for a long time to have a child – for eight years. But in the end it all worked and Lara was so good she slept a lot and didn’t cry – she was perfect.
Dr Melanie Newbold, a paediatric pathologist from Manchester Royal Children’s Hospital, said Lara was ‘a perfect little girl and seemed to be well grown for her age’.
The court heard Lara showed no signs of suffocation or any illness and her organs where all perfectly normally formed.
Dr Newbold said it was ‘very rare to find evidence of why they have died. It’s not unusual sadly.’
‘We used to call it sudden death syndrome or cot death, we don’t really understand all the factors, might be that we never will.’
Recording a conclusion of death by natural causes coroner Alison Mutch told Lara’s parents: ‘It’s clear that she had quite a little personality about her. Also came over in the evidence just how well loved and looked after she was.
‘She had a very short life but clearly a very happy life and was very very well looked after.
‘What we know is that she had a social life that few of us could ever aspire to and was out and about and loved being out and about. She was obviously a very sociable little girl.
‘As a family you made the decision to go on holiday and then went to the GP to check they where happy and she was okay for you to go away. It seems like a really lovely place you took her too although memories are very different now.’It seems like it was a really lovely time till the tragedy happened.
‘What also comes across from the evidence that not withstanding the shock of what was happening at that time that you both did the right thing for your daughter. You tried to resuscitate her and called for help straight away and did everything you possible could for your daughter.’
The coroner also found there to be no suspicious circumstances or third-party involvement.
She added: ‘I express my condolences to you at your loss at this very difficult time I know for all of you as a family. Can only imagine how difficult life is at the moment coming to terms with it. And pass them on to the other family who I am sure miss Lara very much.’
Lara’s parents have so far raised more than £5,000 for the Lullaby Trust charity which gives advice about reducing the risk of cot death or sudden infant death syndrome.