24-year-old woman and her four-year-old boy have been found dead, with the late boy holding on to his dead mother.
It turned out that the mother had died two weeks before, but the boy, said to be autistic, had held on to his mother for two weeks without eating or drinking, and consequently starved to death.
That was the coroner’s verdict on Congolese migrant, Esther Eketi-Mulo; and her young son, Chadrack.Esther had reportedly died suddenly after suffering an epileptic fit at her council flat in Hackney, East London, last October. Her young son, Chadrack, who had autism, was mute and therefore unable to raise the alarm. He died of starvation two weeks later.
He was found clinging to his mother’s decomposing body after a family member raised the alarm.
This deeply disturbing case has raised serious questions about how on earth a child could have starved to death in Britain in 2017 without anyone noticing.
The staff at Chadrack’s school, Morningside Primary in Hackney, had visited the tower block where he lived with his mother to find out the cause of his absence, as Chadrack had been missing from school since the end of September 2016.
But they were unable to get a response via the downstairs intercom and, after two visits, eventually gave up.
Esther’s family also telephoned her, but despite being unable to get a response, did not think it meant anything serious.
Coroner Mary Hassell, who investigated the case, has now demanded a nationwide schools alert system to ensure pupil absences are properly investigated in a bid to prevent anything like this happening again.
But while various authorities discuss what lessons can be learnt from this tragic case, friends and family of Esther and Chadrack are racked by guilt and are still struggling to explain how on earth it could have happened.
Certainly, those who spoke to the Mail paint a very different picture to that of an isolated mother and son left to die alone in an East London tower block.
The close-knit Congolese community, says one of Esther’s friends, is struggling to understand how mother and son could have lain undiscovered for so long.
Esther reportedly adored her only child. His birth, at Queen Charlotte’s Hospital, Hammersmith, West London, in January 2012, was the culmination of all the hopes and dreams she’d had when she first came to the UK from Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo at the age of 16.
Her parents, who were already living in London, sent for Esther and her younger sister, believing that they would get a first-rate education and a safer life than would ever have been on offer to them in their native country, which has been torn apart by years of civil war.
Clearly, Esther shared the same hopes for her son, who was the result of her relationship with a London-based Congolese chef from whom she later separated and was rarely in contact.
Those who knew her say she devoted most of her time to Chadrack, who was mute and had severe special needs.
While Esther’s early years in London were spent in her family’s council flat in a tower block in Shoreditch, she moved to her own flat just two miles away on the Trelawney Estate in Hackney two years ago.
But while Esther’s sudden death from epilepsy was tragic enough, how was it possible that no one raised the alarm in time to save her helpless son?
Not long before her death, Esther had also separated from a long-term boyfriend. Had they still been together, he might also have been able to raise the alarm.
Meanwhile, upstairs in the tower block, neighbours were unaware of the horror unfolding in Esther’s flat.
hose who spoke to the Mail say that they saw and heard nothing to give them any cause for concern.
Distressingly, they didn’t recognise the smell of decomposition emanating from the flat after Esther’s death and put it down to cooking smells.
‘The police explained that she had a fit, banged her head and bled to death.
In the end, it was her uncle who came to find out why Esther wasn’t answering the phone. As soon as he stepped out of the lift, says the friend who spoke to the Mail, he knew from the smell that something was wrong and called the police, who made a forced entry.
According to the coroner’s findings, Chadrack had probably only been dead for a couple of days at most when he was found on October 20,2016.
‘The likelihood is that Chadrack lived alone in the family home for over a fortnight after his mother’s death,’ wrote Coroner Mary Hassell.
‘He was found a couple of days after his own death, with his arms around her body.
She was by then very decomposed.’
Speaking at her daughter’s funeral, Esther’s mother, Bebe, said: ‘You know how we loved you too much. The door was always open to you in our home.
‘I forgive the people who are trying to blame us without knowing the reality. We love you too much. Rest in peace.’