Mother of boy who died in respite care: ‘Our lives will never be the same’

St John of God Community Services sorry for ‘shortcomings’ in care given to Tristan Neiland


A mother whose six-year-old son died shortly after falling unconscious at a respite care centre in south Dublin has said her family’s “lives will never be the same”.

Tristan Neiland, who suffered from epilepsy and a number of other medical conditions, was found unconscious while staying at the Carmona Respite Services Centre in Dún Laoghaire in January 2013.

He was taken to hospital but was pronounced dead a short time later.

The High Court heard that on the night of his death, an oxygen saturation monitor was not used and he had not been checked for an hour, despite needing to be every 15 minutes.

St John of God Community Services apologised to the Neiland family in court.

Speaking outside the court, Angela Neiland, Tristan’s mother, said her son “loved everything about life”.

“He smiled, he chuckled, people that you would talk to that knew Tristan, if you would have asked them how to describe Tristan, they would describe to you his chuckles, his laughter,” she said. “Our lives will never be the same, can never be the same.”

Tristan was placed in respite care on January 4th, 2013, as his parents wanted to take the weekend off.


Ms Neiland had provided a detailed care plan, which included having the oxygen saturation monitor placed on his big toe once he fell asleep. She said staff had tried to deflect blame on the family, which was “distressing”.

“I mean it all started from the very beginning and as a grieving mother, things get muddled in your head, your kind of like, ‘Did I say that? Did I do that? Could I have done that?’ It has just been an awful part of this journey.”

Ms Neiland said she and her husband hope that services “will become more responsible” and “they will be held accountable”.

“He entered the place as a healthy boy, he was so good entering – we would never have placed Tristan in their care if he had been in any way compromised. This child came home lifeless,” she added.

“We wish no other family to have to go through what we have – we deserve justice. Tristan’s story deserved to be heard.”

Ms Neiland said she if she had been asked 4½ years ago if she would have made it to today, “I would have told you, I’m not so sure”.

“But I stand here, and we stand here today as Tristan’s family, we fought every step of the way, we fought for Tristan, we fought to be heard. Tristan deserves this.”

In a statement, St John of God Community Services said it “apologises to Tristan’s parents, sisters and brother for the shortcomings in the care provided to Tristan at the time of his death”.

“The service acknowledges that this is a cause of great anguish and stress for his family,” it said.