Leeds woman ‘choked to death on sweet from carer’

Tracey Gilboy, who worked as a senior support worker at the Horsforth Fulfilling Lives Centre in Leeds.
Tracey Gilboy, who worked as a senior support worker at the Horsforth Fulfilling Lives Centre in Leeds.
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A SEVERELY disabled woman collapsed and died after being choked to death by a sweet handed to her in error by a senior support worker, an inquest has heard.

Alison Evers, 34, had trouble chewing and could only swallow small pieces of food, but she was still handed an American Hard Gum at Horsforth Fulfilling Lives Centre, Leeds.

This led to the woman having trouble breathing, turning blue and then going into cardiac arrest. Four days later she died in hospital.

Alison suffered from Cri Du Chat syndrome, scoliosis and had learning difficulties.

Leeds Coroners Court heard yesterday that senior support worker Tracey Gilboy had brought the sweets into the day centre which Alison attended on a daily basis.

Tracey told the court she had brought them in to have after a customer meeting at the centre on April 20, 2012.

One care worker said they were passed out as “a well done for everyone participating”.

An emotional Tracey, who is no longer employed at the home, said: “Honestly, honestly, God forgive me, I should have said don’t give to Alison.

“I’ve never, ever not said I’m at fault with this, I know I am with the sweets.”

When asked by Assistant Coroner Jan Alam if she considered what Alison’s dietary needs were, she replied: “No I didn’t.”

When asked if she was aware of Alison’s soft diet requirements Tracey said “yes”.

The court heard that it was outlined on her individual support plan that she “required liquidised / finely chopped food”.

Tracey told the court she thought the sweets were jellies which Alison would have been able to eat.

The inquest heard that moments after being given the sweet, Alison “was choking and her face was going blue”.

When she became aware Alison was choking Tracey tried to give her the Heimleich manoeuvre, which she wasn’t trained to do. She was then joined by other members of staff to try and revive her.

Tracey told the court that she believed the sweet had been dislodged, but other evidence suggests medical personnel removed the sweet.

Attempts at CPR were made by staff at her centre and an ambulance was called.

Alison, of Leeds, passed away at Leeds General Infirmary on April 24, 2012.

Her cause is death was given as brain injury caused by cardio respiratory arrest.

Tracey told Alison’s parents, who were in court, that she was sorry.

Care worker Donna Swain told the inquest that as far as she knew, Alison’s parents never put sweets in her lunchbox.

She said: “Alison does not chew her food she swallows small pieces.”

The inquest continues.