Autistic boy’s mother slams delay in action over “death trap” Canonbury home

Hayley O’Connell with her four-year-old son Alfie. Picture: Tony Gay

Hayley OConnell with her four-year-old son Alfie. Picture: Tony Gay - Credit: Archant

A single mother who was told her home could be a death trap for her disabled son has spoken of her ordeal waiting months for safety measures to be installed.

Hayley O’Connell was told by a health professional in November that her flat in Thorndike Road, Canonbury, “presents a significant risk of injury or death” to four-year-old Alfie, who is autistic.

The NHS occupational therapist said his condition means there is a real danger he might clamber out of the windows onto the balcony and plummet two storeys.

Ms O’Connell, who is a full-time carer to her son and also has an 11-year-old daughter, said: “The therapist said my child could die due to the living condition.

“He has no concept of danger whatsoever and it’s not a matter of if something happens, it’s when.”

She says she was left waiting far too long for her housing association to act on recommendations made by the therapist.

In November, the occupational therapist wrote a letter to her housing association, Southern Housing, saying Alfie has poor safety awareness, poor communication skills and difficulty following instructions.

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The therapist urged it to fit locks on all the windows and a door to the kitchen, which could also be a hazard.

Ms O’Connell says this week workmen finally finished the job.

She said: “I have been terrified nothing would be done before it was too late.

“I used to have a gate to stop him getting into the kitchen, but now he is so strong he just pulled it out of the wall. I can’t leave him on his own.”

Duncan Howard, Southern Housing’s regional director, said: “Southern Housing Group is committed to ensuring those who need works to their homes receive them as soon as possible.

“Once our property inspector had visited the flat in January, he immediately raised an urgent job request with our maintenance contractor. The work has now been completed to her satisfaction.

“We apologise that, due to the volume of maintenance requests we receive, it can sometimes take longer than usual to carry out maintenance repairs.”