Ottery boy’s drowning inquest finally re-opens

An 11-year-old boy from Ottery drowned just hours after being left at a respite care home, an inquest heard.

Adrian Pullman, who had learning difficulties, was found face down in a swimming pool at Little Farm, Southleigh, near Colyton, in August 2003.

His inquest was opened shortly after but immediately adjourned, and his father Roger has waited more than eight years for it to start again.

And on Monday at the start of proceedings the Devon coroner, Dr Elizabeth Earland, admitted it had taken a ‘very, very long time’ to be re-opened.

She explained it was a ‘very complex inquest’, and said a lack of resources had contributed to the delay.

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The first day of the inquest heard how the owners of the respite centre thought Adrian was doing a ‘pretend dive impression’ as they approached him in the pool, only to be alerted to a problem by another of the children they were looking after.

Phillip Crofts and his wife Christine Shuttleworth-Crofts, said in their statements they attempted to resuscitate the boy, but were unable to get his airway open enough to perform CPR properly.

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Adrian was airlifted to the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital where he was pronounced dead on Sunday, August 10, 2003.

A post mortem said a brain infection caused the 11-year-old, who had suffered from autistic tendencies and other learning difficulties from a young age, to drown.

But a consultant paediatric neurologist from the Alder Hey children’s hospital in Liverpool disputed these findings.

Dr Richard Appleton, who spoke as a witness at County Hall in Exeter, said he believed Adrian simply drowned.

The inquest continues.

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