A grieving mum spoke out about the horror of finding her 18-month-old daughter strangled to death in her cot after a baby monitor cord became wrapped around her neck.
Danielle Duggan’s daughter Jessica Lacey Duggan was accidentally strangled by a lead from the £150 Motorola baby monitor while she was in her cot.
The youngster was confirmed dead at hospital after the incident at her home in Shipdham, near Dereham, Norfolk on October 25 last year.
After an inquest was held into the youngster’s death yesterday, care manager Danielle, 31, and husband Jason, 30, spoke out to warn other parents.
The inquest in Norwich, Norfolk, was told how Jason had placed a baby monitor with a camera on a shelf in her bedroom to notify them of her movements via mobile phone.
After Jessica was put in her cot for a nap in the afternoon, Mr Duggan woke up and noticed that the camera had moved position.
He went into Jessica’s room at around 4.30pm to discover that she had managed to get hold of the wire connected to the baby monitor, which ran down the back of the wall behind the shelf.
The chord had become wrapped around her neck and both he and Danielle desperately untied it.
Danielle said: “I removed the cord from her neck and put her on her changing table.
“My husband started CPR on her and we called the ambulance and the operator was counting for him while he was giving CPR.
“He was doing it for 8 to 10 minutes. I think she had passed by then but he was doing it until the ambulance got there and they took over.
“It was very, very traumatic as you can imagine.”
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Jessica, their only child, was taken to Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital after the ambulance, air ambulance and police had all attended their home.
Speaking after the inquest, Mrs Duggan said: “We are just urging parents to be extra cautious - you have to box in everything.
“The wire was always out of reach - it was a corner shelf above her cot and the camera was at the back of the shelf - and the wire was tucked behind the shelf and tacked all the way down the wall and it was plugged into an extension lead underneath her cot.
“It was safe and nothing had changed for the whole time she was sleeping in there - which was over a year.
“The coroner and the police think that she has seen the extension lead - pulled the extension lead up from underneath - the wires got enough slack on it that she got the wire round her neck then the weight of the extension lead has dropped and it’s cut off her air supply.
“That’s what the coroner and the police have gathered together but no one knows - no one was there, we don’t know what happened or how she managed to do it.
“The wire was fleshed to the wall - we didn’t just leave her in a room with lots of wires hanging around.
“When the police came round to look at the room - they had to remove four screws to get the wire out from behind the shelf - that’s how tight it was.
“They pushed down on the shelf to check that it wouldn’t fall and they were leaning down on the shelf with their body weight and it wasn’t moving - it was all so secure.
“We had £150 worth of equipment. It was all tucked behind the shelf. We don’t know how she managed to reach it.
“Jessica slept in that bed for over a year. She had three or four naps a day and slept for 12 hours a night. She was a really good baby in that respect.
“We really want to raise awareness for the air ambulance service - they were amazing.
“In our region the air ambulance stops between 7pm and 7am.
“Luckily we called them before 7pm but what if Jessica needed extra help and she couldn’t get it.
“We want to raise money for them so that other people can get the same care that we did.
“We also want to raise awareness for the NICU unit - they don’t get enough credit for what they do.
“I was diagnosed with pregnancy-induced diabetes when I had Jessica and they told us she was going to be a big baby so we bought lots of bigger clothes.
“But when we had her she was only 6lbs and we didn’t have any clothes that would fit her.
“The NICU unit got us everything - they provided all the baby blankets, nappies, hats - they were amazing and they don’t get enough credit for what they do.
“And now we have those things as memories and they’re important to us.”
The couple want to raise awareness about the accident as they would have wanted to be made aware about these dangers.
“If we were to have another baby we would get a wireless one.
“But it’s not just wires that you have to be careful about - it’s phone changers and other cords around the house.”
Jessica’s father, Jason Duggan, 30, who is a control room operator, said: “I think it’s just really not to take anything for granted.
“Just think outside the box when it comes to your toddler’s safety.
“They will get in to anything - even things you wouldn’t think of - as we know with Jessica.
“We’re urging parents just to box up everything you can.”
The grieving mother said the incident has already prompted a police officer who attended the scene to change the wires in his house as he had a similar set up.
Danielle added: “One of the police officers that attended Jessica he had a little girl too. He had a similar set up to ours with the baby monitor and he said he went home and just stripped everything and took everything out. It really affected him.”
The couple also want to raise awareness about the option of counselling for grieving parents and said that the government need to do more to help families.
The mother said: “There is no support for anyone who has lost a child.
“Unless you have a miscarriage, you have a still born baby or you lose a child to a disease like cancer or leukaemia, there is no support for you.
“Our doctor really fought for us to get counselling otherwise we wouldn’t have got anything.
“You have to pay £80 per week to have counselling and that just wasn’t an option for us.
“And returning back to work has been very difficult too and there is just no support.
“Because Jessica was a healthy 18-month-old we didn’t get anything - the government need to do more for people.
“The undertakers pay for the majority of the funeral for minors under 18 and they really help but it is the after care that we need.
“We are still living through this hell and they need to do something for the after care.”
A statement read out in court on behalf of PC Matthew Hill, who attended the scene, said there “was nothing to suggest this was something other than a tragic accident”.
The statement continued to say that the parents “thought they were doing the right thing by having a monitor in the bedroom”.
Coroner Yvonne Blake concluded that the death was caused by compression of the neck by ligature.
Since October, the couple have started a GoFundMe page to raise money for the air ambulance that tried to save their daughter.
They wrote: “The air ambulance service is all run by charity and due to the amazing care they gave our daughter, we would like to raise money for them in the hope that the money will help others when needed.”