Wigan mum finally to get answers over baby son's death

Laura Monks with a teddy made out of babygrows she bought for her son Rueben
Laura Monks with a teddy made out of babygrows she bought for her son Rueben
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A Wigan mum’s lengthy battle for answers about the baby son she lost soon after he was born at a borough hospital could be almost at an end.

An inquest into the death of Rueben Monks was opened at Bolton Coroner’s Court this morning, with proceedings potentially lasting three days.

Rueben’s mum Laura Monks, from Aspull, delivered him by Caesarean section at Wigan Infirmary in November 2011.

Doctors worked on him for around an hour but, despite his heart briefly starting, it was decided nothing more could be done for him and he was pronounced stillborn.

The inquest potentially represents something of a step into the legal unknown as coroners cannot look at stillbirths but can find out more about the death of a baby which lived only briefly, something the Government has recently considered changing.

Since losing Rueben Laura has fought for years to find out exactly what happened to him and now she will finally get her wish of a proper inquiry at the coroner’s court.

Stephen Jones from Leigh Day, the Manchester solicitors representing the family, said: “There is a gap in the law at the moment that does need to be filled. Parents will inevitably want to know why their baby died and whether there are any lessons that can be learnt.

“The ability of a coroner to investigate stillbirths, where appropriate, would be very beneficial and we would welcome any change in the law that extended the coroner’s jurisdiction.

“Rueben’s parents believe it is important that he is recognised as a person and that he should have his own birth and death certificate.

“Equally, they feel that the circumstances leading up to his death should be fully explored and they welcome today’s hearing.”

The matter has been with Bolton Coroner’s Court at least since 2016 when WWL was forced to admit errors and pay out £40,000 to Laura, 33, and her partner Peter Winrow, 37.

Today, however, proceedings finally began with experienced coroner John Pollard hearing from two medical experts, independent consultant obstetrician Professor Janesh Gupta and neo-natal consultant Professor Simon Mitchell.

At least half a dozen witnesses from WWL, including the consultant who delivered Rueben, are expected to give evidence tomorrow.

Laura previously told this newspaper Rueben was delivered five hours after she got to Wigan Infirmary when as a category one case he should have been seen in 10 minutes.

It took 34 minutes for staff to get him to life support and employees had to use the bleeper to get someone to come to resuscitate him.

She went to hospital while 38 weeks pregnant, suspecting something was severely wrong as she could no longer feel him moving.