Girl, 11, died after getting tangled in garden swing rope while phoning friends

·3-min read
Grace Patricia Hamnet, 11, accidentally strangled herself on the rope of a garden swing at her home in Widnes in May. (Reach)

An 11-year-old girl died after she accidentally strangled herself with the rope on a garden swing while on a video call with friends, an inquest has heard.

Grace Patricia Hamnet, from Cheshire, was on a group chat with school friends at her home on 23 May this year when tragedy struck.

Despite efforts to revive her, she died five days later at Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool.

An inquest at Warrington Coroner's Court into her death heard on Monday that her mother found her unconscious and caught in the swing.

Her mother had gone outside to ask her to keep an eye out for their McDonald's delivery.

Her mother’s screams alerted a neighbour who jumped over the fence to help, before performing CPR on the child.

Grace was in cardiac arrest when the ambulance arrived at the home on Tedder Square and attempts to resuscitate her continued during the journey to Whiston Hospital, Merseyside.

She was eventually stabilised and remained "deeply unconscious" before being transferred to Alder Hey in Liverpool.

In written evidence read out at the hearing, Dr Carla Thomas, a paediatric intensive care consultant said: "Grace was perfectly fit and well on the morning of 23 May.

"She had last been seen playing in the garden at home while on a video chat with friends."

A CT scan at Alder Hey revealed Grace had sustained a brain injury resulting from the loss of oxygen and blood supply.

The inquest heard that an MRI scan the following day confirmed that Grace had a "devastating brain injury”, with neurosurgeons concluding there was nothing more that could be done. She died on 28 May.

Written evidence from Detective Inspector Robert Lees, of Cheshire Constabulary, was also read out at the hearing.

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He said: "She had been on a group chat with school friends. They indicated that during the telephone group conversation Grace had showed them the rope and said 'I'll be able to put my neck through this and hang myself’. She said it in a joking way."

The hearing was told that Grace had previously said this on WhatsApp.

After stating this to her friends, Grace's phone was left pointing to the sky and there was no further communication from her, the inquest heard.

Her friends told their parents who contacted the relevant authorities.

Warrington Town Hall, home to Warrington Coroner's Court

Credit: CheshireLive/MEN (Reach)
The inquest into the death of Grace Patricia Hamnet was heard at Warrington Town Hall. Reach)

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DI Lees said Grace's mother had made it clear that her daughter would not self-harm and was a happy child.

The inquest heard she had just received a good school report.

A police investigation confirmed there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding Grace's death and no third-party involvement.

"There were no concerns from anyone about Grace", said DI Lees.

Assistant coroner Heath Westerman accepted the medical cause of death - hypoxic ischaemic brain injury due to strangulation.

He said there was no evidence of intent to self-harm and concluded that Grace's death was accidental.

He said: "My heart goes out to Grace's parents, in particular her mum due to the traumatic way she found her daughter in difficulty."

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