Cot that trapped Fife baby was faulty, expert tells inquiry

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A COT in which a baby boy was found trapped and unconscious was “faulty” and “dangerous”, an expert told an inquiry yesterday.

Ainslie Smith died after becoming trapped between the mattress and the slatted side section of his cot as he slept in his home in Pitlessie, Fife, in July 2009.

His “sheet-white” lifeless body was discovered by his mother Alexandra Smith, a local vet, when she went to check on him after a family day watching rugby. Mrs Smith described how she found his body wedged vertically – his back was against the slats on the side of the cot and he was facing the mattress.

She added: “I had to pull on him. It was a real effort to get him out.”

She and husband Ainslie, also a vet, attempted to resuscitate the eight-month-old child but were unsuccessful. A post-mortem revealed he died of asphyxia and a mechanical obstruction of the upper airway.

Mr Smith held his head in his hands as independent product safety consultant John Trinsi detailed his findings at a Fatal 
Accident Inquiry at Cupar Sheriff Court yesterday.

Mr Trinsi said that the £200 Cosatto Stratford cot bed, purchased by the Smiths a month before the death of their son, exhibited a major design defect.

The industry expert, who runs Berkshire-based Consumer Product Safety Advice Ltd, has almost 25 years experience in nursery equipment testing. He was sent an identical copy of the flat-pack cot by the Crown as part of its investigations.

He found that during normal day-to-day use, the fixing that held the side of the cot steady could come loose, creating a gap that a child could fall into. He added that the flaw should have been picked up during the rigorous testing of the product.

Mr Trinsi said: “The death was a result of a safety defect in the cot bed. The dropside was insecure, which was discoverable.

“The cot bed is a dangerous product and produces a serious risk as it can disengage through reasonable use and create head and body entrapment.”

In April 2010, Cosatto issued a safety enhancement device for Stratford cot beds made between 2005 and 2009.

Mrs Smith said she had spent time walking Ainslie with her sister and watching the British Lions rugby tour in South Africa on television with her husband and his parents on the day he died.

Her husband, who runs Eden Park Veterinary Practice in Cupar, had been on his way to check on some animals when he received a frantic call.

Following his urgent return home, both he and Mrs Smith attempted CPR before paramedics arrived to transport Ainslie to the Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy.

Efforts to revive the child at the hospital were unsuccessful.The inquiry will continue on Thursday with legal submissions. Sheriff Charlie Macnair will give his determination in writing at a later date.