Boy, 4, dies after head gets stuck in homemade double ladder


A four-year-old boy has died after his head got stuck in a homemade double ladder, according to an investigation.

Draco Chapman was found injured by one of his older brothers on April 2, 2019 and taken to Norwich and Norfolk Hospital, where he was placed in an induced coma.

He was later transferred to Addenbrooke’s Hospital, in Cambridge, and then to hospice, where he died on April 23.

An inquest heard that the boy was trapped between two steps that his mother, Rachel Chapman, had placed one above the other in a door frame at their home in Osbert Close, Norwich, Norfolk.

Dr. Roddy O’Donnell, clinical director of the pediatric intensive care unit at Addenbrooke’s, said Draco died after suffering neurotic asphyxia from accidental hanging and respiratory cardiac arrest.

The court heard that before his death, Draco had been diagnosed with a heart murmur and Noonan syndrome, a condition that can cause heart defects and developmental delays.

Draco, who was one of six children, all of whom lived with their mother, was being cared for by an older brother at the time of the incident while their mother was at a parent’s evening.

Norfolk Police Sgt. Graham Green told the court in a statement that Draco was found wounded by his sister and was carried upstairs by an older brother who performed CPR on him and called emergency services before his mother came home.

The sergeant said that when he spoke to the older boy about the incident, he described Draco as a “sweet boy.”

A statement from Mrs. Chapman, who was pregnant at the time of Draco’s death, described how she got home and found out what had happened.

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She said: “I came home and hoped it was normal. My oldest son was on the phone to the ambulance yelling that he (Draco) had stopped breathing. I went upstairs to do CPR and the ambulance crew came and took over.”

Ms Chapman said she had placed the stair gates on top of each other to keep her children safe from climbing.

She said: “I was pregnant and I agreed with the health visitor that I needed help and she referred me to social services.

“I struggled, but I knew I needed help. My oldest son would help with the children, but I had to accept that he had gotten out of hand.

“On April 2, I put up the second stair gate to prevent them (the children) from leaving the room and going up the stairs. I thought it would act like a door and keep them safe in the room.

“The bottom one didn’t work because Draco used to climb on it.”

Health visitor Helen Thompson told the court in a statement that she had visited the family in March 2019 and noticed Draco using a toy box to climb up the ladder.

She said: “The house had a lot of dirty diapers outside the front door and in the living room there were pieces of bread on the floor.

“When we discussed stair gate safety, I said children should be supervised to keep them safe.”

A staff member at the nursery Draco attended told the court in a statement that they had offered to help Ms Chapman after noticing her clothes were dirty and the replacements she had been given had not been returned. .

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The court heard that Draco’s mother was no longer caring for her other children, and the nursery staff member said that when she visited her after her death, Mrs Chapman said she would do anything to turn back time.

Draco’s death was recorded as accidental by the coroner, who said: “The medical cause of death is catastrophic brain injury and asphyxiation from hanging.

“Draco was caught by the neck while trying to climb through the lower stairwell door and as a result of being trapped between it and the upper stairwell door, this caused him to suffocate and go into cardiac arrest.”

Additional report by PA


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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