Guilt-Ridden Grandmother Commits Suicide After Her 4-Year-Old Grandson Dies Under Her Watch

Guilt-Ridden Grandmother Commits Suicide After Her 4-Year-Old Grandson Dies Under Her Watch

A grandmother whose toddler grandson drowned in her garden pond while she had fallen asleep drunk took a fatal overdose just two days after attending the memorial of his death, an inquest heard.

Hilary Rees, 45, had consumed eight pints of cider when she was supposed to be looking after Daniel Rees-Smith, two in June 2010.

She was babysitting the toddler at her home while his parents, Charlotte Rees-Smith, 20, and Andrew Marshall, 22, went to the pub.

But Hilary passed out drunk and when his parents returned they found Daniel face down in the pond.

Rees, Rees-Smith and Marshall were arrested after Daniel’s death and admitted child neglect charges over a 13 month period.

They walked free from court after a judge gave them suspended prison sentences because of the 'heavy burden' they would have to bear.

But an inquest at Avon Coroners Court yesterday heard how Rees was later found dead at her home after taking prescription drugs and drinking heavily.

Rees died on May 5 this year in her Bristol home two days after a family memorial to mark his 4th birthday - two years after his death.

She was found dead after telling family she would be 'better off dead' and taking a cocktail of booze and painkillers.

The inquest were told that Rees had a history of alcohol and psychological problems and had previously tried to take an overdose in April.

 

Guilt-Ridden Grandmother Commits Suicide After Her 4-Year-Old Grandson Dies Under Her Watch

She said: 'At about 8.53pm I received a text from her telling me that she loved me.

'I thought that was strange because she doesn’t normally tell me, she told my brother Josh too.

'She sent another message telling me that everyone would be better off is she was dead and everyone blamed her for the death.

'She also told me she wouldn’t do anything stupid.'

Rees, Rees-Smith and Marshall were all spared prison after admitting neglecting the toddler at Bristol Crown Court in July last year.

His Honour Judge Maddison told the trio losing Daniel had already given them a “heavy burden” to carry.

After Daniel’s death, Rees told police: 'It’s my fault - I have killed my grandson. I was meant to be looking after him.' 

Rees was found dead at her dining room table, surrounded by empty medication blister packs and a half drunk pint of cider on May 7.

Daniel would have turned four on May 2 - a milestone marked by his friends and family during a poignant memorial gathering on May 5.

Rees, daughter Rees-Smith and friends blew balloons with the number four written on them, which were released to the sky.

After the inquest Josh Rees-Smith said his mum was deeply loved and would be deeply missed.

He said: 'My sister and I are really deeply upset about the fact we have now lost so many family members in such a short amount of time.

'We are gutted mum can’t see her new 8-month-old grandson grow up and spend his first Christmas with his family.

'Despite everything that has been said in the papers she was no pariah as everyone has made her out to be.

'She did a good job raising me and my sister regardless of any demons she had in regards to drinking.'

He said his mum was afraid to leave the house and had used every back road possible to avoid people when she had gone out.

He added: 'She was a lovely woman and was deeply loved and will be deeply missed.'

Assistant Deputy Coroner Dr Peter Harrowing recorded a narrative verdict.

He said: 'Hilary Rees was found dead at her home address on May 7.

'She had a known history of drug and alcohol abuse and the GP refers to a known suicide attempt.'

During their appearance at Bristol Crown Court prosecutors told how Daniel was left alone with the grandmother up to four times a week.

She regularly fell unconscious on the sofa - leaving little Daniel to wander alone - and admitted growing cannabis plants in the loft of her foul smelling house.

A serious case review after the case found that authorities were aware of problems with Daniel’s family before he was born.

But chances to deal with them were missed due to failures by a number of agencies, including social services, Bristol City Council and Bristol’s youth offending team.

Bristol Safeguarding Children Board made six recommendations for 'lessons to be learned' from Daniel’s death.

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