Healthy five-month-old baby girl dies suddenly in arms of her aunt

Healthy five-month-old baby girl dies suddenly in arms of her babysitting aunt while her parents were away from home at an Ed Sheeran concert

  • Esme Brotherton was found unresponsive after falling asleep in her aunt’s arms
  • Parents had gone to see Ed Sheeran and aunt Danielle had offered to babysit
  • The five-month-old, of Greater Manchester, was later pronounced dead after being taken to hospital despite best efforts of family and medics to revive her
  • Post-mortem exams were unable to reveal a medical cause of the baby’s death 

A fit and healthy baby died mysteriously during a family sleepover whilst her parents were attending a concert by the rock star Ed Sheeran.

Five-month-old Esme Brotherton was found unresponsive by her aunt after the infant fell asleep in her arms on a sofa.

The baby was later pronounced dead in hospital despite efforts by her aunt and paramedics to revive her. Tests were 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.

Esme Brotherton, a healthy five-month-old, died mysteriously in the arms of her aunt who was babysitting while parents Heather and Shaun (pictured with Esme) were at Ed Sheeran gig


Inquest heard Esme’s aunt Danielle was babysitting and had fallen asleep with the baby in her arms and when she woke up, Esme (pictured with mother and father) was found unresponsive

‘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.

Esme (pictured) was found unresponsive and was pronounced dead at hospital despite the best efforts of family members and the paramedics to revive her at her home in Middleton

An inquest heard Esme 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

‘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.

Pictured: Esme’s parents Shaun and Heather Brotherton who lost their baby Esme in May 2018


Couple went to see Ed Sheeran at a concert in 2019 and were pictured with him afterwards

‘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 ascertained.’

Recording an open conclusion, coroner Nigel Meadows said: ‘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.

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