A mum has credited her baby video monitor with saving her 19-month daughter’s life after she spotted that she had trapped her neck in an unsafe cotbed.
Phillip Dickens, director of furniture company Baumhaus, a firm based in Upper Heyford, Oxfordshire, has been fined £12,000 after two toddlers, including one from Northamptonshire, got their head caught in cotbeds.
Dickens was prosecuted by trading standards after lab tests of their Nutkin three-drawer cotbeds identified safety failures relating to strength of certain parts and risks of finger, head and neck entrapment.
Aylesbury Crown Court heard that Louise Conant bought one of Baumhaus’s Nutkin three-drawer cotbeds for her 19-month-old daughter, Ophelia.
On April 16, 2013 she put Ophelia in the cotbed for her lunchtime sleep, and was monitoring her via a video monitor system when she noticed the tot getting into difficulty.
She hurried upstairs to find her daughter hanging by her neck, which had become lodged in a gap between the end of the bed and a horizontal handrail.
Nine days later, Deborah Turner, a mother from Northamptonshire, who had also bought a Nutkin cotbed, found her son dangling on the outside of the cot with his forehead jammed against the horizontal handrail.
Following a complaint by Mrs Conant, Bucks Trading Standards served Baumhaus a product recall notice, which recovered 93 per cent of the 212 cotbeds sold.
Baumhaus designed the Nutkin cotbed, which was produced in China and imported back into Britain for distribution.
Alex Greenwood, prosecuting, told the court the prototype had been safety tested and passed in 2010 but the product placed on the market in 2013 had different dimensions.
One can only imagine the horror that mother must have feltJudge Holt
In mitigation Sunyana Sharma said the company accepted it failed in not having proper quality control, but had acted quickly to remove the product from distribution.
Judge Karen Holt said it was a serious offence but acknowledged naivety and negligence on the part of the defendant, who at the time had no manufacturing experience, kept no technical product notes, and relied on an external company for testing to assess compliance with British standards.
Judge Holt said: ‘One can only imagine the horror that mother must have felt.’
Judge Holt awarded both mothers £1,000 each in compensation, fined the company £12,000 and suspended Mr Dickens’ prison sentence for a year, and also awarded costs of £35,653.94.
Speaking after the case, Mrs Conant, said: “I bought what I thought was the best for Ophelia - a premium quality cot bed.
“But it turned out to be a living hell,
“For a long time afterwards it gave me nightmares, and it made me nervous about putting Ophelia to bed.
“The video monitor definitely saved her life.
“I’d never have thought to buy one, but a friend suggested it.
“Now I’d urge every parent to consider a video monitor for their child - for me it was such a valuable buy.”
Trading Standards Officer Rebecca Kaya, who led the investigation, said the case demonstrated the department’s commitment to protecting families from products posing a safety risk, and was an example of the tough measures they were prepared to take.
She said: “This case highlights the need to be very careful buying online.
“Before clicking the “buy” button, make sure you have a manufacturer’s code, product code and full contact details of the retailer, including a cancellation process in case you need to return the product, or there is a safety problem.
“We believe there are still 12 of this model of cotbed out there, which weren’t reached by the product recall.
“Our message is clear to anyone who has one, to check the name and product code, and contact their local Trading Standards department.”