ALIVE; Boy, Three, Survives for Two Weeks Trapped in Flat with Mother's Body

Article excerpt

Byline: GORDON TAIT;GRAHAM GRANT

A THREE-year-old boy survived on scraps of food for two weeks as his mother lay dead beside him.

The body of Anne- Marie McGarrity, 33, was found in her home with her distraught son Michael nearby.

The emaciated toddler had managed to feed himself by scavenging food from the fridge, miraculously keeping himself alive for a fortnight.

The badly dehydrated and soiled youngster is even believed to have covered his mother's body after she died in the tower block flat in Leith, Edinburgh.

Last night the child was being treated for malnutrition at the city's Royal Hospital for Sick Children where staff described his condition as poor, although he is expected to survive.

Neighbours said Michael had failed to turn up at nursery for the last three weeks, prompting managers to contact a relative, thought to be the child's maternal grandmother.

She rang police who forced the door of the third- floor flat in rundown North Fort Street last Saturday afternoon.

It is believed the mother was a heroin addict who died from an overdose, leaving her terrified son to fend for himself.

Local residents said the authorities failed to check on Michael's absence from nursery for around three weeks - even though he is believed to attend the council- run

establishment directly opposite his home. Last night it was unclear whether the boy or his mother had been under the care of social workers.

One neighbour said the nursery had initially contacted the tower block's caretaker before alerting Michael's grandmother.

The 19-year-old, who herself has a three-year-old son and declined to be named, claimed another male addict had died in the same flat a year ago.

She said: 'McGarrity lived there for a few years. She always had her son with her and would say "hello" to me, but it was obvious she was on drugs.

'I heard her little boy had not been to nursery for three weeks - it is shocking to think of him sitting there in the dark while I was here with my own son.' The neighbour said other tenants living next to Miss McGarrity had moved out recently without notifying the local authority, forcing council staff to break down the door.

She added: ' They were making a terrible noise so I went out to ask them what was going on. …