Boy died from dehydration after his mother died on Christmas Eve

Tragedy of baby Harry: One-year-old boy was found dead from dehydration after his drug addict mother, 27, died having inhaled lighter fluid – leaving him alone and helpless in their flat over Christmas

  • Natalie Kane was found dead days after inhaling lighter fluid on Christmas Eve
  • The 27-year-old’s son Harry, was also found dead from dehydration in their flat
  • Ms Kane previously suffered with addiction, depression and alcohol issues 
  • She was described as a loving, devoted mother whose life revolved around Harry

A one-year-old boy died from dehydration after his mother, 27, died when she inhaled lighter fluid on Christmas Eve, having previously struggled with drug addiction.

Natalie Kane and her 14-month-old son Harry were found dead in their Whitehaven flat, Cumbria, five days after they did not arrive at a friend’s house on Christmas Day.

In a scene which left paramedics ‘visibly upset’, Harry and his mother were found dead several days after their deaths in December. 

An inquest today heard that the little boy died due to dehydration after effectively being left alone when his mother died as a result of substance abuse.

Ms Kane, 27, had previously suffered with addiction and had no drugs other than her prescribed methadone in her urine when it was checked one week before her death. 

However, on Christmas Eve, she seemingly decided to inhale lighter fluid and suffered catastrophic effects.

Natalie Kane and her 14-month-old son Harry were found dead in their Whitehaven flat. Ms Kane had inhaled lighter fluid and died

An inquest heard that Ms Kane had grown up in Cumbria and attended Maryport Primary School before spending time in the Sea Cadets which allowed her to travel around the world. 

She also modelled for Littlewoods and later joined the Army as a lorry driver before being discharged due to issues with alcohol.

Ms Kane suffered with depression throughout much of her life and was receiving support from services including Recovery Steps Cumbria and Women Out West after suffering from drug addiction and domestic abuse. 

One friend noted that she was keen to avoid her ex-partner and Harry’s father, Nathan Ryan, to avoid repeats of negative behaviours.

All those who knew her and gave evidence to the inquest spoke of her as a loving and devoted mother whose life revolved around her son Harry. 

She would take him to the park every day and had no childcare as she wanted to be with him as much as she could, the inquest was told. 

The inquest heard that Harry died of dehydration and may have lived for two or three days after his mother’s death

Her brother Scott recalled her excitement when she became pregnant and noted that she matured from that point.

Ms Kane was not thought to have taken drugs after Harry’s birth and engaged with support services.

In the lead up to her death, she saw friends and spent some time with her brother,  who had bought a balance bike as a Christmas present for Harry.

The inquest was told that Ms Kane was excited for a first ‘proper’ Christmas with Harry and had bought lots of presents for him to enjoy. 

On Christmas Eve, she had been shopping at Tesco in Whitehaven and spent some time with a friend. 

She was due to visit her grandmother but was unable to when a train was cancelled.

On Christmas Day, she had planned to visit another friend, Stacey Hackett, with Harry but stopped responding to messages the previous evening. 

The coroner said that Ms Kane was no longer abusing heroin when she died, and that her reasons for inhaling butane will never be known

Ms Hackett said that she was not concerned when the pair did not show up as this was not considered to be unusual. She believed they had instead gone to spend the day with their family. 

It was also not unusual for Ms Kane to go several days without speaking to her family and friends.

On December 30, concerns were raised after Ms Kane had not picked up a prescription or been in contact with any of the support services — and the police were contacted. 

An officer attended and could get no response at the address. He spoke to neighbours in the surrounding flats at Wellington Row who recalled not seeing her for a few days. The neighbour directly below recalled hearing a tap running constantly but no other noises.

The officer received permission to enter the property, which was unlocked, and discovered Ms Kane lying in the living room next to unopened Christmas presents. 

Ms Kane was not thought to have taken drugs after Harry’s birth and engaged with support services

A paramedic noticed the presence of a substance in her nose and bottles of lighter fluid, consistent with substance misuse.

Harry’s body was found in the bathroom. Post mortems were carried out and it is believed that the little boy may have survived for two to three days after his mother’s death before succumbing to the effects of dehydration.

In a statement summarised by the coroner’s assistant Margaret Taylor, Ms Kane’s brother said: ‘She was one of the best mams I’ve ever seen. She was so loving, thoughtful and caring. The last year of her life was revolved around Harry.’ 

Harry was described as a happy baby who clearly loved his mother.

Concluding the inquest, the coroner said: ‘What we will never know is why Natalie used that butane. She’d done so well, she’d changed her life around, she clearly wasn’t abusing heroin which had been her drug of choice.’

She added: ‘Natalie Kane died at her home address on an unknown time between the 24th and 25th of December after succumbing to the effect of voluntary inhalation of butane. 

‘Harry died as a consequence of dehydration having been left alone following the death of his mother.’

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