Toddler died after getting trapped between stair gates

Draco Chapman, pictured in March 2018

Draco Chapman, pictured in March 2018 - Credit: David Chapman

A lively four-year-old boy died of irreversible brain damage after attempting to climb through two stair gates, an inquest has heard.

Draco Chapman, of Osbert Close in Lakenham, Norwich, received the "catastrophic injuries" after the accident which took place around 4.30pm on April 2, 2019.

The stair gate put up by Rachel Chapman, Draco Chapman's mother

The stair gate put up by Rachel Chapman, Draco Chapman's mother - Credit: David Chapman

An inquest, held at Norfolk Coroner's Court on January 25, 2022, heard that his mother Rachel Chapman was out at a parents' evening for one of her other children at the time and the mother-of-five had left her teenage son in charge of the younger children.

He called 999 and despite being brought back to life by paramedics Draco suffered "irreversible neurological injuries" according to witness evidence.

Draco was taken to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and Addenbrooke's Hospital where he was put into an induced coma but ventilation was removed on April 18, 2019, and he died at the Quidenham Children's Hospice, run by East Anglia's Children's Hospices, on April 23.

Evidence from health visitors and teachers from Tuckswood Academy and Nursery, where Draco went, said Mrs Chapman who was separated from the children's father, was "overwhelmed" and had little support.

The family home was described as disorganised and messy and the children were often in stained clothes but Mrs Chapman, who was 20-weeks pregnant at the time of the accident, was described as someone who loved her children.

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A Norfolk Safeguarding Children's Partnership serious case review carried out after the death made a recommendation that a safety warning should be put on stair gates.

Mrs Chapman put the stair gate above another one on the floor between the living room and hallway because Draco often climbed over the bottom gate.

She was worried about her children's safety on the stairs and didn't want them playing with the taps, according to health visitor Helen Thompson, who gave out safety advice to the mother. She did not see the two stair gates on top of each other.

Johanna Thompson, assistant coroner, concluded Draco died from accidental death and the medical cause of death was catastrophic brain injury due to asphyxiation due to hanging.

After the inquest Draco's father, David Chapman, said: "Draco was a very mischievous little boy. The whole family loved him dearly."