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Payout for mum arrested after death of three-year-old son

A Birmingham mum held on suspicion of murder after the tragic death of her three-year-old son has won a large payout from police.

Abby Podmore
Abby Podmore

A Birmingham mum held on suspicion of murder after the tragic death of her three-year-old son has won a large payout from police.

Abby Podmore was locked in a police cell as she tried to cope with the devastating trauma after discovering little Alfie dead in his bed.

She was in custody within hours of finding his body as police investigated the circumstances into the death in February 2011.

Eventually it was discovered Alfie had, in fact, died from severe pneumonia, which medics had failed to spot four days earlier during a visit to A&E.

Now Abby has received a payout from West Midlands Police after her arrest and detention on suspicion of his murder.

The 22-year-old said she was grateful the legal action had finally ended and that she would now try to move forward with her life. The amount paid out has not been disclosed.

Miss Podmore, a dental nurse from Quinton who is set to get married later this year to fiancé Thomas Arnott, 26, has since had another son, 18-month-old Henry Podmore-Arnott. “It is a relief now we can move forward and leave the police and hospital behind us,” she said, “although Alfie will always be part of our lives and in our hearts.

“We have lots of photos in the house of him, and Henry points to them when we ask him where his brother is. I will tell him all about his brother when he is older and how he was a real little livewire who loved life and was always smiling.”

The whole experience has left Miss Podmore on anti-depressants, and nervous whenever she sees a police officer approaching her.

She was represented by Lawyers Irwin Mitchell, and will use part of the payout to fund professional counselling sessions to help her.

“When I was arrested I was tricked into going to the police station and then detained. I was held in the cell and wasn’t allowed a phone call. I didn’t know why Alfie had died myself and all of a sudden my grieving had stopped. Now I can never trust anything the police do or say.

“I just didn’t know what had happened to my son and was desperately trying to find out. It makes things three times as bad and there is no support from the police.

“I was in there 24 hours when I should have been at home grieving with my family. I am spending the money on having some professional counselling as I’ve been on anti-depressants for a long time. I don’t want to be on them forever. When it first happened I had constant nightmares about being in the police cell.”

Abby Podmore with son Henry
Abby Podmore with son Henry
 

Last year Birmingham Children’s Hospital agreed a five-figure out-of-court settlement after it fully admitted that failings in medical care led to Alfie’s death.

Four days before the tragedy, Miss Podmore had taken her son to the hospital worried about a range of symptoms.

She was told he had gastric illness, and he was sent home with antacid medication. Had medics realised he was severely ill with pneumonia, the youngster would have survived, an inquest had previously heard.

The experience has left Miss Podmore unable to relax whenever Henry is ill. “Since Henry was born I have been to see the GP quite a few times about illnesses he has had,” she added. But it will be really difficult if he has to go to hospital as what happened to Alfie will always be at the back of my mind.”

Miss Podmore will also use some of the money to buy a new house as she still lives in the home where she found Alfie.

At the time neighbours knew she had been arrested on suspicion of murder, but over the past two years, they have come to learn the truth.

“They have realised it was a huge mistake and now they speak to us more,” she explained. “It has been easier to live here because we wanted more people to be aware of what happened to us.”

Miss Podmore added: “Alfie was adored by his family and everyone whose lives he touched during his short time with us and he will never be forgotten.

“Alfie was my whole world. I loved him so much and did the very best I could for him. I knew in my heart that I couldn’t have done any more for my little boy. I’m just relieved the legal battles with the NHS Trust and police are now over as we can finally look to begin rebuilding our lives.”

To pay tribute to the three-year-old, Miss Podmore and Mr Arnott will have orange as the colour theme at their wedding as it was the youngster’s favourite. A huge picture of him will be placed at the venue, and the same doves released at his funeral will also be set free at their wedding.

Chief Inspector Garry Billing, from Birmingham Police’s Child Protection Unit, said: “A payment has been made to Abby Podmore; she’s accepted it is a full and final settlement and without any admission from West Midlands Police.

“Miss Podmore was arrested following her son’s death as it was deemed in the best interest of the investigation at that stage.

“It became apparent, however, the case should not be treated as a murder inquiry and she was quickly dismissed as a suspect.

“This is a truly tragic case and no amount of money can ever compensate for the death of a child.”

A Birmingham Children’s Hospital spokesperson said: “Our deepest sympathies remain with Alfie’s family following his sad death. We know that our care fell short of what it should have been for Alfie and for this we are deeply sorry.”

Alfie Podmore with dad Tom Arnott
Alfie Podmore with dad Tom Arnott
 

 
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