Boy, 7, drowned toddler in the bath, inquest told

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The Independent Online

A seven-year-old boy deliberately drowned a two-year-old girl as they shared a bath, an inquest heard yesterday.

A seven-year-old boy deliberately drowned a two-year-old girl as they shared a bath, an inquest heard yesterday.

The girl died in less than five inches of water while taking a bath with the boy – described by his mother as "a bit of a bully" – and his-six-year-old sister. But the boy will not face any charges because he is under the age of criminal responsibility.

The girl's body was found by the boy's mother, a family friend who had been looking after the toddler at her home in Greenwich, south-east London in April this year.

Southwark Coroner's Court heard that the six-year-old girl had told police officers her brother had said before the bath that he was planning to attack the toddler. She claimed that he had slapped the tot and then held her head under the water.

When she was initially arrested, the boy's mother, who cannot be named for legal reasons, allegedly told officers: "It is hard ... My son was in the bath watching her when it happened. I was just that far. He can be a bully."

The toddler's father, from Lewisham, confronted the woman at the inquest during several heated exchanges.

The coroner, Selena Lynch, said the evidence suggested that the boy may have drowned the girl. But she added that he was too young to have committed any offence in law and she said that his sister's evidence would not be reliable enough in a criminal trial.

After hearing from investigating officers and the pathologist that they could not be certain what happened, she recorded a verdict of death by misadventure.