A coronial inquest in Adelaide is examining if an intellectually disabled boy who died after eating dirt and rocks had adequate supervision.
Lawrence Betts, 9, died at a care home run by the Community Accommodation and Respite Agency in April 2010, The ABC reports.
The inquest heard that the boy, who needed 24-hour care due to a rare congenital condition and an intellectual disability, enjoyed playing outdoors.
The court did not learn if the boy had a habit of eating dirt if left unsupervised.
Before Lawrence died a carer checked on him and found him to be sleeping but when she returned to wake him she found that the boy had diarrhoea and was vomiting.
He collapsed in the bathroom while he was being washed before he was taken to Flinders Medical Centre, where he was pronounced dead.
Forensic pathologist Roger Byard told the court that Lawrence's death was caused by a bowel obstruction and he found dirt, stones and rice grains in the boy's stomach.
"I don't think you can say that soil and rice caused it on their own ... [but] heavy materials like stone, soil and rice increase the possibility of this happening. I think it's something that would worsen his chances," he said.
The professor added that the warning signs can be particularly difficult to detect in children with intellectual disabilities and the child's health could deteriorate rapidly.
"In some cases they seem quite well then can go downhill very rapidly," he said.
The inquest continues.
Author: Martin Zavan, Approving editor: Nick Pearson