The West

Kill me, distressed mother told paramedics
Miranda Hebble outside the Coroner's Court this week.

The distressed mother of two whose children died in a shower while she was "passed out" asked paramedics to kill her as they tried to assess her wellbeing.

Nathaniel Crewe this morning testified about attending the Ellenbrook home where Miranda Hebble had called emergency services in the early hours of November 8 2008 after finding her 10-month old Malachi and two-year-old Lochlan dead in her ensuite where she had been showering them.

Ms Hebble, whose then-fiancee was a fly in fly out worker away on a minesite, had been crying and told paramedics she had been showering her children after one of them smeared the contents of his nappy before she went to get soap and passed out.

"She said that this is the last thing she remembers and woke six hours later in the bedroom," Mr Crewe recalled.

The paramedic said he had asked if she had passed out before and whether she was hurt and that she said no.

"She said it didn't matter anyway... (and) kill me, kill me," he said. "She said that if we did not kill her, her husband would. She kept repeating 'my kids are dead' and 'kill me, kill me'."

Mr Crewe said Ms Hebble said she had not taken anything that would have caused her to pass out.

Counsel assisting the Coroner, Kate Ellson, has said in her opening that Ms Hebble - who has yet to testify - had declined a police interview at the time but appeared on her account to medical staff to have been showering the children between 1pm and 2pm and was unconscious or asleep for 10 hours before finding the ensuite flooded, items strewn over the floor blocking the drain, and her children dead.

A neurologist has struggled to find evidence suggesting that a mother of two whose children had died in a running shower lost consciousness but believes it's plausible she had fallen asleep.

Professor Graeme Hankey was testifying in the inquest into the death of Lochlan, aged two, and Malachi Stevens, aged 10 months, whose mother Miranda Hebble claim she had "passed out" while leaving them in the running shower to get soap.

Ms Hebble - an anaemic - has yet to testify but the inquest has heard she told medical staff she saw white speckles, passed out and woke 10 hours later to find the shower drain clogged, the ensuite flooded and her children dead.

Professor Hankey today said that records and tests, including a CAT scan, did not show anything suggest she had lost consciousness or a seizure.

He said while further tests could be done for thoroughness, he did not expect these would result in suggestions of a seizure or loss of consciousness either.

The inquest heard that a common cause of fainting was a lack of blood and oxygen to the brain but this was usually brief and was usually rectified quickly once the body fell flat and gravity saw blood again flow to the brain.

He did not see any history or results to suggest epilepsy or a structural issue such as a tumour, he said.

The professor agreed he was struggling to find anything neurological in Ms Hebble to explain the 10-hour gap during which her children died.

Instead, he believed it was plausible that Ms Hebble had fallen asleep.

Professor Hankey said he believed it was possible that a person could put their children in a shower, sit down briefly with the idea of just "resting their eyes" or taking a nap for a minute and then sleeping for ten hours.

"I think if your that tired you can sleep for 10 hours," he said.

A neighbour of the Ellenbrook home testified that he had last heard Malachi crying between 5.15pm and 6pm that night but had not heard him again that evening, which was unusual.

He said he had also not heard the home's bathroom fan, which was usually on for much of the evening.

Det. Sen-Const. Glenn Savage-Morton gave evidence about tests done at the home including on the hot water system, electrical system and a hairdryer found on the floor of the ensuite.

The results indicated there had been flooding to a level above the gap under the door, that the hot water system could have maintained warm water for a ten-hour period, and that there had been no faults or short circuits detected in the electrical system or hairdryer.

The detective also gave evidence that the children had no visible signs of injury though there had been the appearance of bruising.

Ms Ellson has said that the inquest is seeking to determine how Ms Hebble - who was anaemic - could have been unconscious or asleep for 10 hours.

It will also investigate the causes of death which have been recorded as inconclusive but possibly consistent with exhaustion, hunger, or hypothermia from exposure and which could not confirm or exclude drowning as a contributing factor.

The inquest has heard that Christopher Stevens, the father of the children who has since started a new family, had told Ms Hebble he was concerned about her sleeping pattern and had offered her extra help in the home which she declined.

Ms Hebble's parents have testified that their daughter had told them she had blacked out before. They said she had been a little more tired after her second son but appeared to be coping and was not depressed.

The inquest continues.

The West Australian

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