After his mother suffered a fatal epileptic fit, a mute boy with learning difficulties slowly starved to death at home as he was unable to call for help.
The body of Chadrack Mbala Mulo, aged just 4, was found on October 20 2016, clinging to his mother’s decomposed body.
It is believed his mother, Esther Eketi-Mulo died from an epileptic fit in their home in Hackney, East London more than two weeks before, an inquest heard.
The Coroner, Mary Hassel, wrote in her report:
Chadrack had learning difficulties and, when his mother died unexpectedly at home on 1 or 2 October 2016, he did not know how to call for help or feed himself properly.
The likelihood is that Chadrack lived alone in the family home for over a fortnight after his mother’s death. He was found a couple of days after his own death, with his arms around her body. She was by then very decomposed.
A coroner ruled Chadrack died of dehydration and malnutrition with his autism a contributory factor.
One traumatised neighbour cried as she told the Hackney Gazette:
It’s heartbreaking. It has haunted me for a long time, that I could have helped, and I didn’t know.
I have a little boy and [Chadrack] only just needed feeding and watering. He passed away because he was hungry, not because something happened to him.
I keep thinking to myself: ‘Did I hear him? Did I hear him next door?’ But he never spoke. Never. He just hid behind his mum and held onto her clothes. He couldn’t even call out or speak through the letterbox.
Although staff from Chadrack’s school, Morningside Primary, were aware of his absence at school, when they visited the Trelawney Estate flat where the Congolese mother and son lived alone, they were unable to enter on both occasions.
The tragic case has turned the spotlight onto a failing in the school system in the instances of long, unexplained absences, despite confirmation that Morningside followed procedure fully.
Janet Taylor, the headteacher at Morningside, who said Chadrack’s death was ‘heartbreaking’, has since been working with the authorities closely to amend these procedural short-fallings.