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Heartbroken dad describes moment young son collapsed and died after suffering from effects of peanut allergy

Aaron O'Farrell.
Aaron O'Farrell.

A heartbroken dad has described the moment his 11-year-old son collapsed and later died after suffering from the effects of a severe peanut allergy.

Aaron O'Farrell, of East Street, Doe Lea, died on September 28, 2014, after eating a small amount of sweets given to him by his mum from a gift box which had come from a Hindu festival called Navratri. It is thought the sweets may have been contaminated by nuts contained in close proximity inside the box.

There were no allergy warning signs on the box - something the supplier does not dispute - and has since made changes.

Speaking at an inquest today at Chesterfield Coroner's Court, Aaron's dad, James O'Farrell, said: "My son came running into the lounge and said 'dad, dad I can't breathe, I can't breathe'. The next thing we knew he just collapsed on the floor and everything went panic."

Mr O'Farrell also criticised the suppliers of the gift boxes - Suraj Sweet Centre which is based in Sparkhill, Birmingham - for the lack of allergy warning signs on the box.

"There is so much negligence about not putting a warning on the box," he said. "There is bad training there. They should be aware about this. They should have done this at the source. I just cannot understand it."

Director at Suraj Sweet Centre, Bhikhu Odedra, said that the boxes supplied were not the ones they normally use but as the organisers wanted to break down the cost they used a different type of box. He did say there was warning signs on display cabinets.

The court heard 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 the Navratri festival at Broadway School in Birmingham and brought home five boxes of Prasads, a Hindu gift of food. There had been no warning signs at the event either - which has also since been addressed - a previous inquest in 2016 heard.

"Had I noticed any form of peanuts I would not have taken them home for the simple reason that I knew that Aaron was coming," Ms Ramchurn said.

After the meal, Ms Ramchurn handed Mrs O'Farrell one of the gift boxes from the festival to take home back to Derbyshire. Mrs O'Farrell said she could not recollect her auntie warning her that they may contain nuts.

The next morning Mrs O'Farrell gave Aaron some of one of the sweets to see if he liked it but he spat it out because he did not like the flavour.

Mr O'Farrell told the inquest that he was in the lounge at his home on his laptop when Aaron came running into the room saying he could not breathe.

There was a lot of panic and the first EpiPen they tried to use on Aaron broke so they had to use a second one.

Paramedics arrived after a 999 call and Aaron was given adrenaline and it initially appeared to work and he was conscious when he got into the ambulance.

Sadly, Aaron died in hospital later that day.

The cause of death was given as a peanut allergy leading to anaphylaxis or an anaphylactic shock.

Mrs O'Farrell said she did not see any bombay mix type snack in the box and that she and her family were extremely cautious as Aaron was first diagnosed aged two and they would do everything they could to protect him.

"If I had seen it I would not have given it him," she said. "I would still have my son here today."

The inquest resumes on Monday.