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Coroner criticises witness accounts in inquest of young boy, 11, who died after suffering effects of peanut allergy

Aaron O'Farrell.
Aaron O'Farrell.

A coroner has criticised some of the witness accounts heard during the inquest into the death of a 11-year-old boy who collapsed after suffering from the effects of a peanut allergy.

Aaron O'Farrell, of East Street, Doe Lea, died on September 28, 2014, after eating a substance containing peanuts given to him by his mum from a gift box from a Hindu festival.

It is thought the sweets had been contaminated by nuts contained in close proximity inside the box.

There were no allergy warning signs on the box.

Recording a verdict of misadventure, assistant coroner for Derbyshire, James Newman, today said: "The evidence has at times been unclear and at times contradictory."

The court previously heard on Friday that the O'Farrell family, including Aaron and his mum Jaywantee, travelled down to Birmingham on September 27, 2014, for a family meal at her auntie Neela Ramchurn's house.

Earlier in the day, Ms Ramchurn had been to a Hindhu festival at a school in Birmingham and had brought home five gift food boxes, known as Prasads.

After the meal, the O'Farrell family returned home to Derbyshire in the early hours of the morning with one of the boxes.

The next morning, Mrs O'Farrell opened the box and gave Aaron some of one of the sweets inside to try.

Aaron spat it out and soon after complained to his dad, James O'Farrell, a care home proprietor, that he was struggling to breathe.

An EpiPen was used on Aaron but it broke so they had use a second one.

Paramedics arrived after a 999 call and Aaron was given adrenaline and it initially appeared to work.

However, his health deteriorated when he was in the ambulance and he sadly passed away at Chesterfield Royal Hospital that afternoon.

The cause of death was given as anaphylaxis shock due to peanut allergy.

Aaron had suffered from a severe peanut allergy since he was two. It was said that even a bowl of peanuts on a table would cause a reaction.

The gift boxes bought for the festival from Suraj Sweet Centre, Sparkhill, Birmingham, had no allergy warning signs because they were sample boxes.

The organisers had tried to break down the cost by asking for the sweet and savoury snacks to be in one single box.

The boxes were said to be see-through and that the nuts inside would have been visible. There had been warning signs on cabinets and behind the counter at the centre.

Mr O'Farrell criticised the centre on Friday and said he 'found it hard to understand' why there were no warning signs.

In her evidence, Mrs O'Farrell, a nurse, said she examined the box for warning signs and gave Aaron a piece of sweet believed to be condensed milk.

Mrs O'Farrell said she did not see the bombay mix type snack next to the sweet.

"I find it difficult to believe that the box was fully examined when opened," Mr Newman said.

But added: "However I can understand how a family returning home in the night and after a limited amount of sleep might have simply opened the box and reached inside for a piece of the Prasad."

Mr Newman also added that he was satisfied that the box contained bombay mix which contained nuts.

When paramedics arrived, there was said to have been 'no or little information' provided by the family as to what Aaron had taken.

There had also been difficulties in the paramedics accessing the house because the door was locked.

There had also been difficulties in paramedics using a piece of new equipment - but Mr Newman said this played no part in Aaron's death and praised the emergency responders for their actions.

Mr Newman recorded a verdict of misadventure and offered his condolences to the O'Farrell family.

Aaron was born in Birmingham in November 2002.

He had just started secondary school.

He was much-loved and described as having a bubbly and funny personality.