A four-year-old boy died when a viral infection in his lungs attacked his heart after he was discovered unresponsive following a two-and-a-half-hour sleep at his creche in Ballincollig.
Cillian O'Driscoll of Parkgate in Frankfield, Cork was an energetic child with a great love of jigsaws.
He was found in a critical state at the Kinder Care creche at 2pm on December 14, 2018.
Tusla, in a subsequent review of the creche, expressed concern that a Safe Sleep Policy was not properly adhered to at the crèche.
Cillian was glanced at by workers at various intervals as opposed to being checked every ten minutes as per the recommendations for young children.
No formal written record of checks was made.
Cillian was sleeping on his side in a small treehouse in the creche playroom as children, supervised by staff, played and did yoga.
The youngster, who had a diagnosis of ASD and was primarily non-verbal, had a Department of Educated funded SNA for a portion of his day at the creche.
However, the SNA left shortly after noon daily, with Cillian being in the care of general staff from that point until he was collected after 3pm.
Cork Coroner's Court heard today that Cillian was dropped off at the creche on December 14 by his father John Paul.
He stated that Cillian had picked up the phrase “All the Best” and said it as he waved goodbye to his father and younger brother.
Mr O’Driscoll received a call at 2.30pm to say that Cillian was unconscious.
Cillian was placed on life support when he arrived at Cork University Hospital.
John Paul said their “little boy was no longer there – his body was listless, as were his eyes.”
Deirdre O'Driscoll said Cillian was never happier than playing outdoors or with his beloved jigsaws.
Cillian had had tonsillitis a month before his death but there was no cause for concern about his health.
The inquest also heard from Cillian's SNA Christine Murray.
She said he became sleepy that morning whilst playing in his safe place which was the small treehouse.
Ms Murray said Cillian fell asleep at around 11.30am.
She stayed with him for a few minutes.
She didn’t disturb him as he looked comfortable napping in his warm Christmas jumper.
She looked at him through the bars of the treehouse prior to finishing her shift shortly after noon. When she left she recalled seeing his “rosy red cheeks”.
She had no concerns about the “bubbly child.”
Other workers were made aware that he was asleep.
Employee Ciara O’Connor said she spotted Cillian moving around at around 1.15pm.
The alarm was raised at 2pm when he was found unresponsive. CPR was carried out at the creche.
Dr Margaret Bolster said that Cillian died of cardiorespiratory arrest due to myocarditis and a florid bilateral bronchial pneumonia.
She said that it was likely that the was displaying no symptoms at the time of his death.
A verdict of natural causes was recorded. The jury recommended that staff in all crèches are made aware of all policies and procedures in place and are regularly updated on any changes made.
In a statement, Cillian’s parents said that hoped lessons would be learned from the tragedy.
Specifically, they felt that Cillian should have been properly checked during his long nap.
The crèche had passed a full Tusla inspection in May 2018.
The court heard that the owner of the creche Frances Cunningham and her two assistant managers were at a Christmas lunch when the tragedy unfolded.
A fourth person in the chain of command had been designated as the person in charge.
Ms Cunningham said this was an “unusual” occurrence.
The full complement of staff was in place in their absence.
The creche has been visited by Tusla since the tragedy and has been found to be fully compliant.