Toddler inquest begins

A Gunbower couple were asleep in bed while the Echuca toddler in their care drowned in a nearby creek, a Coroners Court has heard.

Joshua Moore was staying with family friends Sandie Young and Brett Llewellyn on October 2, 2010, when he and Ms Young’s son, Travis, wandered to a nearby creek about 8am.

It was only at 8.45am when Mr Llewellyn was roused by a wet and partially clothed Travis, telling him “Joshie stuck”, that the pair were alerted to the tragedy.

The couple gave evidence via video link yesterday at a Bendigo inquest into Joshua’s  death.

Mr Llewellyn said he had run outside believing the two toddlers had been playing with a tap but then Travis pointed him to Gunbower Creek, which is 100 metres from the house’s front gate.

Mr Llewellyn found the two-year-old lying face up in the water with his eyes closed, about four metres from the bank.

“I jumped straight in... it was really deep,” he said.

“I dragged him out... and I used CPR on him straight away. I had just done a first aid course so I knew what I was doing.

“When the ambulance arrived he had started to turn blue.”

An air ambulance arrived a short time later, but there was nothing they could do – Joshua could not be resuscitated.

Mr Llewellyn said he later saw that the young boys had used a box to open the door.

He said the couple never locked their door because they had an outside toilet, and rarely closed their gate.

Neither him nor his partner said they were ever concerned about the risk posed by the creek.

He said neither of the toddlers had been shown the creek across the road as a way of protecting them from it.

The court heard Ms Young and Joshua’s mother, Kerri-Anne Falkingham, had become friends four months before Joshua’s death and Joshua had stayed at the Gunbower house twice with no incident.

Ms Falkingham said her son liked “splashing about” in shallow water but was scared of any deep water.

She said she had taught Joshua and his two other siblings about water safety, but he had not done any formal swimming lessons.

Ms Falkingham cried through much of the proceeding

Ms Young and Mr Llewellyn also became very emotional during their evidence.

“I kept thinking it was my fault, I couldn’t believe it was happening,” Ms Young said in her statement.

“I felt it wasn’t fair my son was OK and Josh wasn’t.

“We tried as hard as we could, we tried everything as if it was Travis lying there.”

Mr Llewellyn denied any suggestion he had been drinking or using drugs the night before Joshua’s death.

Young said she had sometimes smoked marijuana with Ms Falkingham but couldn’t recall if she had consumed the drug that night.

The inquest, before Coroner Bruce Cottrill, continues today.

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