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Mum thought he was at childcare but he was in her car, dead

News Corp Australia

ONE child sick with gastroenteritis, another teething  - restless all night in his mother's bed, a recent dog attack on a family pet and the back to school routine changed.

It was all these things in combination that led to a regional Victorian mother having 'forgotten baby syndrome' and the tragicdeath of her 22-month-old son, a court has heard.

Noah Zunde was found dead in a car outside a Kyneton childcare centre in February 2015. He was just 22-months-old, a much loved son and little brother, a "gorgeous little boy."

At the time Noah's father paid tribute to his son on Twitter writing, "We lost our beautiful son today."

"Hug your children. Hug them and never let them go."

"I love him more every day. Forever." he said, referring to his baby boy.

"I'll always know I cherished every day. Every laugh, every adventure, every cuddle. Miss you noey X."

His family had moved to the small town of Kyneton, north west of Melbourne hoping for a better life for their two kids.

Noah's big sister had recently started school and the family was adjusting to a change of routine.

The Victorian Coroners Court has heard that on the morning of February19th 2015 Ms Zunde believed she had dropped Noah at childcare, it wasn't until the afternoon when she returned to collect him she realised the devastating truth - he had been in the back seat the entire time.

The court heard evidence from a medical expert that in the weeks leading up to Noah's death Ms Zunde hadn't been able to sleep well as she had been sick, with suspected gastroenteritis, her daughter too had been ill, The Bendigo Advertiser reports.

On the night before he was left in the car little Noah had slept in his mother's bed, restless due to teething, Ms Zunde's partner, Andrew Krespanis told police she had virtually had no sleep at all.

Expert neuroscientist, associate professor Matthew Mundy said in the report that "Ms Zunde had suffered several days of acute sleep deprivation."

On the morning on February 19th Ms Zunde's routine was changed when she had to drop a misplaced travel card to Mr Krespanis at Kyneton train station.

Mr Krespanis said Ms Zunde was "considerably distressed" by the change of routine and the possibility that their daughter might be late to her primary school.

The report said that Ms Zunde then went straight to Tylden Primary School and dropped off her daughter, rather than taking her son to child care.

She then went home to do chores for the day.

Ms Zunde said the childcare centre is "very close to ours, a left turn directly opposite the right turn to our house. I can only assume I automatically made a right turn instead of left".

She told police that "Noah must have fallen asleep on the way which is something he hardly ever did."

Ms Zunde said she had been on "auto pilot", according to The Bendigo Advertiser.

Noah was found in the car outside his childcare. Source: Nine
Noah was found in the car outside his childcare. Source: Nine

There Noah stayed all day, while temperatures reached 31 degrees, only discovered when Ms Zunde went back to pick him up from childcare, to be told he'd never been dropped off.

In Mr Mundy's report he said that in the car Ms Zunde could not see Noah's baby seat, so she had no visual reminder her son was in the car.

"Without a visual cue to the presence of Noah, it is less likely that Romy Zunde would have been reminded of his presence after a failure in short-term memory of driving home instead of to Bambini daycare,"

"This seems important, since he would normally be making some kind of noise during the journey. Again, these observations would also suggest a lack of external 'cues' to prompt the maintenance of Romy's short-term memory".

​He said that "Ms Zunde had suffered several days of acute sleep deprivation. She was overwhelmed with confusion and thought about several alternatives where she could have left Noah."

The family had recently added a new day to Noah's childcare, and had been under stress after dogs attacked their pet pigs.

Professor Mundy said that Ms Zunde's habitual memory took over and led to an error.

"In my opinion, it is possible that due to the recently changed routine for the destination of a Thursday drive [which would otherwise have been to the family home], and the competing and confusing information from the other items held in long term memory [arrangements for Fridays, arrangements for previous weeks etc], there was a potential for error introduced into the day's travel."

Together all these changes, and the exhaustion Ms Zunde suffered led to "forgotten baby syndrome".

The inquest continues.

This article originally appeared on Kidspot and has been reproduced here with permission.

Topics:  death editors picks inquest parenting toddler

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