Young man’s death in bath ‘a tragic accident’

Inquests
Inquests

A vulnerable young man – with epilepsy and severe learning difficulties – accidentally drowned after being left unsupervised in the bath.

22-year-old Armstrong Manners Jaravaza, known to his family as “Zviko”, was found submerged in water by his younger sister Brilliant at their home at Copenhagen Close in Luton on March 15.

Stricken with panic, Brilliant pulled the plug on the bath and ran to a neighbour for help, who attempted to pull Zviko out before an ambulance was called.

Paramedic Christopher Boyes stated how he arrived at the address soon after 2.15pm to find Zviko dead, with dried blood and mucous about him.

By then, rigor mortis had already set in.

A police investigation and results from a post-mortem found no cause for suspicion, with Det Sgt Thomas Steen describing it as “a tragic accident”.

Brilliant told the inquest: “Normally I help him by taking him out, making him food but I never bathed him.”

Describing the day in question, she said: “I woke up around 10am and the rest of the family were going to church. Mum said, ‘Can you come down and look after Zviko for a few hours?’

“We watched African movies until 12.40pm.”

Zviko then apparently asked his sister if she could run him a bath, a task usually only carried out by his father and grandmother.

Brilliant said: “I’ve watched my dad and grandma, and thought I could run him a bath and keep an eye on him.

“He undressed himself and I watched him get in. I went downstairs as I remembered I needed my phone.”

Despite intending to keep checking on her brother, Brilliant said she “felt funny” and accidentally fell asleep while on the sofa.

She was awoken 45 minutes later by a phonecall from her mother, asking after Zviko. She went first to his bedroom, and checked the other rooms before going into the bathroom to find him dead.

Brilliant added: “I was not even meant to go downstairs, but I went down to get my phone. I don’t know what I was thinking.”

At the inquest at Ampthill Coroner’s Court, the pair’s parents, Rungano and Ruth Jaravaza, told senior coroner Tom Osborne they would not have agreed to Zviko’s sister bathing him, due to his need to be carefully supervised.

A special needs nurse employed by LBC outlined two recent assessments at the family home, and potential safety issues regarding his bathing.

But his parents hit back at the reports, and said no discussion about Zviko’s bathing had taken place during the visits.

His father Rungano described a previous assessment. He said: “When the social worker came to the house, she stopped his mum from washing Zviko because she felt it wasn’t right for her to be bathing and dressing Zviko.”

Instead, as part of his care package it was stipulated that a carer should come for 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the evening to attend to Zviko’s personal care.

It was a decision criticised by the coroner, who said: “I won’t even try to guess at the thinking behind that, because it would be difficult for anyone to come in on that basis.”

In his closing comments, he added: “I formally record that Brilliant fell asleep and there was no intention on her part to do so. My conclusion therefore is that Zviko has died as a result of an accident.

“I do have misgivings in regards to the arrangements to care, in that surely it’s impossible for someone to come in on 30 minutes a morning and 30 minutes at night. No doubt the local authority will look at that care arrangement.

“But, I don’t think that in any way has contributed to the fatal circumstances of Zviko’s death.”