Accidental death verdict on footballer's son

The two-year-old son of a Premiership footballer died after choking on a screw which had fallen from a child's chair, an inquest heard today.

Finlay Cooper died despite desperate attempts by his father, Middlesbrough defender Colin Cooper, to dislodge the screw.

It had fallen from the child's chair and Finlay put it in his mouth while playing with his three older sisters at the family home near Knaresborough, North Yorkshire in January this year, Harrogate Coroners' Court heard.

Deputy coroner Geoff Fell said nobody was to blame for what was "a tragic accident".

Mr Fell told the court that one of Finlay's sisters had already removed the object from the boy's mouth and thought she had put it in a place where the toddler could not reach it.

Moments later another sister saw him put it in his mouth again.

As the girls raised the alarm Mr Cooper tried to remove the screw by using the Heimlich manoeuvre - a life-saving technique.

Mr Cooper also called for help from medical staff at a local nursing home, the court heard.

The screw was later removed at Harrogate District Hospital where the child was certified dead.

Mr Fell told the inquest, attended by 35-year-old Mr Cooper and his wife Julie, that the chair had been examined by North Yorkshire Trading Standards who found that although there were problems with it they were not relevant to Finlay's death.

Mr Fell said: "The screw falling out is not in itself a dangerous occurrence."

The chair, which is designed for use by children over nine, is no longer on sale in Britain.

Mr Fell added: "Nobody is to blame for what happened. Finlay's death was the result of a rare consequential occurrence. It was a tragic accident that could not have been foreseen.

"Finlay's parents did all the right things but unfortunately to no avail."

The coroner recorded a verdict of accidental death.

Mr and Mrs Cooper left the court without comment.

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