A healthy baby died mysteriously at a family sleepover while her parents watched an Ed Sheeran concert.
Esme Brotherton was found unresponsive by her aunt after the infant fell asleep in her arms on a sofa.
The five-month-old was later pronounced dead in hospital despite efforts by her aunt and paramedics to revive her.
Tests have since been unable to establish a cause of death.
An inquest heard Esme, from Middleton, Greater Manchester, had been born 19 days early by emergency C-section but after being treated for jaundice was allowed home and got into a regular pattern of feeding and eating.
The tragedy occurred in May 2018 after her parents Shaun and Heather Brotherton got tickets to see Sheeran at the Etihad stadium. The infant’s aunt Danielle offered to look after the child at her home in Northern Moor.
Mrs Brotherton, an office manager told the Manchester hearing: ”Myself Esme’s father and his mum were going to the concert and it was due to start around 5-6 pm. Danielle was looking after Esme overnight for the first time but she had two older children of her own and I arranged a travel cot in another room.
”Our intention was just to go to the concert, then go to home but we went to a local pub before returning with my mother-in-law. She and Shaun carried on drinking downstairs and I went to sleep, knowing I was picking Esme up the next day.
”Shaun then received a phone call from Danielle to say Esme wasn’t breathing, and we had to go to Wythenshawe hospital as soon as possible.. I couldn’t think straight.’
“We got straight into the car and drove to Wythenshawe hospital A&E. In the car, I phoned Danielle asking her to tell me what happened but I couldn’t understand what Danielle was saying.
”All I could gather was that she and Esme had fallen asleep on the couch, but I didn’t know any more than that, and now it seemed Danielle wouldn’t talk to me or Shaun. Danielle kept passing the phone to the nurses and they just told me that Esme was very poorly, and I needed to get to the hospital as soon as possible.”
Danielle Brotherton told the hearing Esme had been fed twice but was teething and crying. She said the infant was initially placed in a child’s bouncer seat before transferring to the couch.
”There were cushions on it and it was soft and I did sit down, and I just fell asleep on the couch with Esme in my arms,” said Danielle as she broke down in tears.
”I don’t remember going to sleep, but the baby fell asleep too and I woke up in the same position. Esme was just laid down on top of my arm, on her back and heard my son crying upstairs for a bottle.
”I left her lying down on her back and was literally seconds but when I came back I noticed Esme’s lips were a funny colour. I picked her up straight away but she wasn’t doing anything. Then I got on the phone to the ambulance.
“The emergency call handler told me to do CPR and I put the phone down to do CPR on Esme. I followed it as best I could and the next thing, the paramedics were there.”
Forensic pathologist Dr Naomi Carter who carried out a post mortem examination on Esme said: ”Attempts had been made to feed Esme with her bottle, but she wasn’t taking very well so she was placed in a travel cot to see if she would settle.
“Because she would not, Danielle Brotherton put her on the couch with her. Initial reports at the time were that she had fallen asleep and woke up at 1am and found her lying next to her, blue and lifeless. She has died sometime between 10:30pm and 1am but we cannot give an exact time.
“Esme was well nourished appeared in good health and there is no evidence in medical terms what caused or contributed to death.
”There are several possibilities. When children die suddenly and unexpectedly, sofa sharing is quite often a feature that we find with these children. but in our opinion, death in this case is best described as unascertained.”
Recording an open conclusion, coroner Nigel Meadows said: ’’The evidence does suggest at about 10:30pm or thereabouts, Danielle Brotherton was holding Esme in her arms on the sofa, and went to sleep.
”Later in the early hours, she awoke, heard her son crying and went to attend to him and left Esme on the couch.
”She was only gone a very short period of time before coming back. She turned on the light and then noticed that Esme was not looking as she did when she last held her. She picked her up to try and find out her condition. When it was clear that something is abnormal with Esme, the emergency services were called, and paramedics attended.
”Danielle did try to carry out resuscitation on instruction from the emergency services. On arrival, paramedics continued to try to resuscitate her before taking her to Wythenshawe Hospital. On arrival, there were further attempts made to resuscitate here, but unfortunately, they were unsuccessful, and Esme was officially pronounced deceased.
“Trying to decide the medical cause of death is not easy. I accept Drr Carter’s evidence, that there did not seem to be any congenital abnormalities.
”Infants do die suddenly without any reason, and sometimes, without any issue with co-sleeping or sofa sharing. But it is correct that it is recognised now that co-sleeping or sofa sharing is associated with the deaths of infants in particular.”
Wellwishers raised £6,332 for the family following the tragedy.