Carer grilled on toddler's death
A FAMILY day carer was questioned extensively yesterday about the final hours of Jayden Lynch's life on December 15, 2008 – nine days after his third birthday.
The coronial inquest into Jayden's death, at a family day care centre in Yamba, began at the Grafton Courthouse yesterday with several witnesses taking the stand including chief investigating officer Detective Senior Constable Grahame Burke, Jayden's father Ty Lynch and Jayden's carer on the day of his death, Kerry Pemberton.
Coroner Scott Mitchell questioned the presence of a WorkCover lawyer, saying the authority had no place at the inquest considering it had not investigated the matter of its own accord. He said WorkCover was welcome to observe proceedings.
Crown solicitor Paul Guterres explained the inquest aimed to find the truth of the case rather than apportion blame.
Mr Guterres said autopsy results showed Jayden died of aspiration secondary to epilepsy. He said the autopsy found some underlying illness had caused Jayden to vomit, which he then inhaled into his air passages causing him to choke.
Mr Guterres said it appeared Jayden had been asleep during the episode and that the inquest would seek to establish what Mrs Pemberton had seen, heard and done on the day of the tragedy.
He said paediatric submissions stated Jayden had his first of several epileptic seizures on June 8, 2006, at the age of six months and that he'd had a slight runny nose in the weeks preceding his death.
On the day Jayden died, the inquest heard, Jayden's mother Cyndi Lynch had informed Mrs Pemberton that the child was not feeling well and to keep an eye on him.
Detective Burke testified he did not believe there was sufficient evidence to satisfy a charge of manslaughter through criminal negligence.
Mrs Pemberton told the inquest she had been a licensed childcare worker for 10 years and had undertaken a “refresher” first aid course in 2007, which covered cardio pulmonary resuscitation.
She said Jayden had had a seizure at her house in August, 2007, which had frightened her.
She told the inquest written instructions from Mrs Lynch stated that she should time the seizure and place Jayden in a recovery position.
Mrs Pemberton said she did not know that a fever could lead to a seizure.
On the day of the tragedy, Mrs Pemberton initially denied knowing that Mrs Lynch had given Jayden some Nurofen, but later recalled knowing.
Mrs Pemberton was questioned at length about her movements and how many checks she made on the five children in her care on the day of the tragedy.
She said the children were put down for a sleep/rest about 1pm and that she had lunch shortly after. During one of the checks on the children, Mrs Pemberton said, Jayden was sleeping on his back, but when she checked at 2.30pm he was sleeping on his side.
Mr Guterres asked her how she knew he was asleep at 2.30pm.
“He looked like he was asleep ... he was lying still,” she answered.
“So you couldn't see his face?” Mr Guterres asked.
“No,” she replied.
“So he could have been dead,” he said.
“I don't know,” Mrs Pemberton said, clearly upset.
Mr Mitchell said Mrs Pemberton's checks appeared to be ineffective as they did not establish whether he was okay.
Mrs Pemberton said she discovered Jayden was not breathing when she stirred the children about 3.15pm and he did not move.
The inquest heard Jeff Pemberton called Mrs Lynch at 3.18pm to notify her before Mrs Pemberton called triple-0 at 3.19pm.
“I rolled him over and he was pretty pale ... he was bluish around his lips and he was very clammy and sweaty.”
The inquest heard Mrs Pemberton attempted CPR before the ambulance arrived at 3.24pm when further revival attempts ensued, but he was pronounced dead upon arrival at Maclean Hospital.
Speaking about his dearly missed son, Ty Lynch told the inquest about a boy who was highly intelligent, cheeky and engaging.
Jayden, he said, loved The Wiggles and Jimmy Barnes and used to proudly spell out his name in song “J A Y D E N, Jayden is my name”.
“We still cry every day ... after five attempts at IVF to have him taken away – robbed of the one thing that you should be entitled to have,” he said.
Mr Lynch pleaded with the inquest not to focus on Jayden's seizures.
“He did have convulsions after his immunisation, but he was not a sick child by any means,” he said.
He said Jayden was being weened off his (epilepsy) medication.
“His life was the best three years of our life, the last two years have been the worst,” he told the inquest.