The way Miranda Hebble tells it, her problem was sheer exhaustion, brought on by lack of sleep from her infant son’s restlessness. She was so fatigued caring for her two children that on one occasion she left 10-month-old Malachi in the car with the windows rolled while she went to return a DVD. (She later told the police she was so tired that she feared she might drop him.) It was exhaustion again that allegedly prompted her to leave the children unattended in the shower only to wake up 10 hours later and find them both dead.
Today, a coroner’s inquest into the cause of death of Malachi and his two-year-old brother Lochlan begins in a Perth, Australia, court. In the recording of her call to emergency medical services on Nov. 10, 2008, Hebble can be heard saying:
I passed out and the plug in the shower got plugged up … and the shower filled up … and they’re not breathing. They’re dead.
Hebble told police at the time of the tragedy that Lochlan had smeared feces on floors, walls, and Malachi’s cot. She had carried the two to the bathroom, leaving them alone just long enough to “fetch something from the other room.”
The next thing she knew, hours had passed. She rushed to the bathroom to find that the shower had overflowed. The two children just lay there.
Kate Ellson, counsel assisting the coroner, describes the scene found by authorities:
Malachi [was] floating in the shower on his side with bruises on his cheek.
Lochlan was lying on the bathroom floor with blood coming from his mouth and had a scratch on his forehead and a mark on his stomach.
The boys were pronounced dead the following morning at 2 a.m.
A post-mortem examination was unable arrive at a definitive conclusion, but coroner Jodi White indicated that Malachi may have died of drowning, while Lochlan exhibited signs of exhaustion, hunger, and possibly hypothermia with exposure. It is possible, White added, that drowning may have contributed to the older child’s death as well.
Hebble is described as a quiet person with no history of mental illness or drug and alcohol abuse.
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