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Thomas Branchflower

Thomas Branchflower Wiki

                        Thomas Branchflower Biography

Who was Thomas Branchflower?

A 16-month-old disabled boy who had just learned to stand drowned in a waterhole when left unsupervised in the garden of his foster family’s home, according to an investigation.

Thomas Branchflower was found unconscious in the metal container at the Williton, Somerset home on July 27 of last year and died in hospital five days later.

Her foster mother said she was “kept awake at night” by regretting not emptying the water tank with the top open as her mobility improved.

The potential danger was overlooked during eight previous inspections of the home because it was empty during the winter months, according to the investigation.

Thomas had a cognitive disability that delayed his development and impaired his vision, which is why he was in a professional foster home.

At the time of his death,he was unable to walk, but he had recently learned to stand up briefly, Somerset Coroner Tony Williams said at the hearing.

That day, her adoptive mother came into the house to check her email, leaving Thomas in the garden with her 13-year-old daughter.

Thomas Branchflower died after falling into a water trough

Louise said

Louise said, “I went out into the garden but couldn’t find it. I didn’t know what had happened. I didn’t hear anyone enter the property.”

“I looked around the garden and looked at the trough in the garden. I didn’t know why I looked at the trough, but Thomas was there, face down in the trough.”

The investigation was told that Thomas was unable to stand for long at the time of his death.

Somerset Senior Coroner Tony Williams recorded a narrative conclusion.

Paying tribute to the young man, Louise said: “Thomas exuded joy, he was cute, caring and truly loved. We were really proud of him. He made people clingy. He didn’t give up, he gave joy.

“He hadn’t seen him stop before. He never got in his stroller. He was afraid of water, he was afraid of water.”

Thomas passed away in hospital


The investigation also heard that the waterhole should also have been recognized as a possible hazard.

In his narrative conclusion, the coroner said, “I don’t think it’s fair to just refer to an accident.”

“We could say, broadly speaking, that it was an accident, no one intended it to happen …” Prior to the placement of Thomas Branchflower, the foster care process had not identified the waterhole as a potential hazard.

“At the time of Thomas’ fall into the water-filled trough, Thomas was not being supervised.”

Bristol Royal Children's Hospital, where Thomas died days after he was pulled from the trough

Bristol Royal Children’s Hospital, where Thomas died days after he was pulled from the trough 

In November of last year, Thomas’ mother, Tanya Branchflower, said that he was “very much loved and adored by us, his parents.”

Sheridan Farrow, Thomas’s grandmother, said Thomas had been “happy and healthy” despite the condition, which delayed his physical development.

The Somerset County Council subsequently conducted an independent investigation.

Trish Lyons, who conducted the review, found that the authority met the national minimum standard for rearing in all respects other than health and safety risks.

But she said a household risk assessment had been recorded indicating that the house had no water features.

This was because it was carried out during the winter when it was dry.

She said the waterhole was “not mentioned” in eight health and safety visits that were carried out.

She added: ‘There was also a lot of continuous contact during the months she was at the home, but there were no discussions on health and safety issues.’

She said in a February 2020 report that it was also noted at the time that “ Thomas needed more than good care and he was not to be left alone while he slept. ”

“The purpose should be to look at the facilities from an objective perspective, but the potential risk of the container in the summer months was not identified,” she added.

“In the summer it could have had water, but none of the reports raised the possibility that this was a problem.

“With the benefit of hindsight, we have the opportunity to emphasize the potential risks associated with water and the prevention of drownings and accidents in general.

“There were omissions in the supervision of the suitability of the house.”

Somerset County Council representatives told the investigation that changes had been made to their procedures in this area.

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Thomas Branchflower Quicks and Facts

  • Thomas Branchflower was found face down in rain trough at foster carer’s home
  • Thomas, aged 16 months, had a cognitive disability which impaired development
  • Inquest heard boy was left with 13-year-old while foster mother checked emails
  • Foster mother found him alone and attempted resuscitation while calling medics
  • Thomas died from drowning in Bristol Children’s Hospital’s ICU five days later
Show More

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