Death of four-year-old boy may be ‘unnatural’ as inquiry launched into treatment by Sunderland Royal Hospital staff

A coroner has said the death of a little boy may be ‘unnatural’ as an inquest is opened which will look at the treatment the four-year-old received in hospital.

Thursday, 16th May 2019, 6:00 am
An inquest has been opened into the death of Sheldon Gary Farnell
An inquest has been opened into the death of Sheldon Gary Farnell

‘Beautiful’ Sheldon Gary Farnell died in Sunderland Royal Hospital in November less than 24 hours after he was discharged by doctors.

Yesterday Sunderland Senior Coroner Derek Winter opened an inquest into his death - more than six months after Sheldon lost his life.

Katrina Farnell is fighting for justice for her son

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Inquiries will be carried out into the health care and treatment the little boy received and what, if any, intervention could have been made that could have changed the outcome for Sheldon and his family, of Houghton.

Sheldon’s devoted mother Katrina Farnell has vowed to fight for justice for her little boy.

Speaking to the Echo after Sheldon’s tragic death, his family said they were told the ‘cheeky’ youngster had died of suspected sepsis.

They said Katrina, 24, had spent two days in hospital with unwell Sheldon believing he had a serious viral infection before he was discharged by doctors on the morning of Sunday November 25.

Less than 24 hours later, Sheldon was rushed back into hospital after his condition worsened and he tragically died in his family’s arms.

A review into the circumstances around Sheldon’s care was launched by bosses at City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, which has now been passed to the coroner as part of inquest proceedings.

At a hearing at Sunderland Coroner’s Court yesterday, Mr Winter said: “I’m going to open the inquest into the death of Sheldon Gary Farnell who was four years of age when he died at Sunderland Royal Hospital.

“Given the prior inquiries carried out into Sheldon’s death, I have taken the view that I have reasonable cause to suspect his death may be unnatural.”

Statements have been requested from Sheldon’s family and consultant paediatrician Dr Lawson, of Sunderland Royal Hospital.

Information on Sheldon’s blood tests from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, in Gateshead, and statements from two experts have also been requested.

A post-mortem examination was carried out by pathologist Srinivas Annavarapu on November 28, 2018, and a report submitted to the coroner on April 9 earlier this year.

A solicitor on behalf of Katrina and Sheldon’s family attended at the hearing although a representative from the hospital, who was due to attend the inquest, was not present.

An inquest hearing has been fixed for November 5 and 6 later this year.