Isreal Brensell-Rimene died on 13 July at the age of 11 months. He was found unresponsive in his cot and could not be resuscitated.
Despite exhaustive post-mortem testing, the cause of death was not ascertained, and given the concerns identified by the Coroner the findings were referred to the Victoria Police to investigate further.
Isreal Brensell-Rimene resided with his mother (Ms B), her partner (Mr T) and his three older siblings. The relationship between Ms B and Mr T began in May 2015.
On the evening of 12 July 2015, Baby Isreal had dinner and was put to bed by Mr T. He was found awake shortly before midnight by Mr T and was given a bottle which had been prepared by Ms B.
Following this, Mr T reportedly smoked cannabis in the outside bungalow until approximately 3am before he went to check on Baby Isreal. Smelling vomit, he went into the room and indicated that he observed Baby Isreal face down and unresponsive in the cot.
Mr T took Baby Isreal to the couple's bedroom where he called the 000 emergency number, attempting cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) by instruction from the call taker. An ambulance was dispatched to the residence. Ms B had not seen Isreal since putting him to bed at 7:30pm and noted that he seemed blue in the face.
Ambulance paramedics arrived shortly after 3am and noted that Baby Isreal was in cardiac arrest with a body temperature of 31.1 degrees Celsius. Paramedics were alarmed by physical injuries on Baby Isreal and requested police attendance. As Baby Isreal was in asystole with no heart activity, he was urgently transferred to the Hamilton Base Hospital. The ambulance was driven by a member of the police whilst paramedics continued to work on Baby Isreal. Full resuscitation measures were commenced upon arrival to the Hamilton Hospital. After a period of time it became clear to the medical practitioners that Baby Isreal's condition was unsalvageable and attempts to revive him were abandoned. Isreal was declared deceased at 3:47am by Dr Stewart Perry. A coronial directive was made for an exhaustive autopsy and ancillary tests, including toxicology.
It was found that Baby Isreal did not die of natural causes. Yet, no direct cause was found in the various injuries identified in post mortem examination.
The post-mortem findings included:
- ischaemic encephalopathy and some axonal injury
- extensive scalp haematoma
- healing torn upper oral frenulum
- healing ulcerated lesions inside of ankles and outside left thigh, with some deep necrosis
- recent bruising on the jaw and forehead
- thymic haemorrhage
- gastric contents throughout airways
The pattern of injuries was considered atypical of accidental injuries. The injuries excluded the possibility of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) or other natural disease processes. It was theorised that some head trauma, either inflicted or accidental, may have impeded Baby Isreal's ability to breathe. Toxicological analysis revealed methamphetamine, MDMA (ecstasy) and cannabis. The presence of the drugs was considered to be through environmental exposure.
It was found that Baby Israel had died earlier than declared, prior to hospital admission.
Timing of the injuries could not be precisely determined. No injuries were observed when Baby Israel was in child care, which ended when Mr T moved into the residence in May 2015. It is during this later period that the injuries were thought to have occurred.
The findings were forwarded to the Victoria Police to assist with a homicide investigation into the death of Baby Isreal.