Blackpool family shares heartbreaking tribute to 'precious' nine-year-old schoolboy who died after falling unconscious at home: 'There's a constant void where Joe should be"
Joseph Bitsakaki, known as Joe, had gone upstairs to his bedroom at the family home in the Heron’s Reach area of Blackpool on September 24 last year.
An inquest, at Blackpool Town Hall, heard how a family member found him unconscious when they went to get him 25 minutes later, at 5.30pm.
Despite the efforts of both family and paramedics to resuscitate Joseph, he was taken to Blackpool Victoria Hospital where he later died.
Alan Wilson, Senior Coroner for Blackpool and Fylde, heard how Joe was a happy and loving boy who “lived life to the full”, but he also had some “additional needs”.
Addressing the court, Dimitri said he had been “shocked” to find his son sitting behind the curtains by an open window, earlier on the day of September 24.
He described this behaviour as worrying, but not out of the ordinary for Joe.
"He wanted to know what things felt like, and seemed unaware that things might be dangerous. He liked to take risks.”
But he was also “disproportionately” sensitive to pain, and avoided doing things that he knew would hurt him.
In a statement, Joseph’s family said the death has had a “devastating effect”, and has left a “constant void” where he should be.
“We miss Joe’s cuddles; his sense of humour and playfulness, the lively conversations with him, seeing him excel at anything physical. We miss his soft hair, beautiful blue eyes and smile that melted our hearts.”
Detective Inspector Jill Vescovi, worked closely with the family throughout the investigation. She told the court that the family’s Alexa, phone and laptop devices had all been examined for any sign that Joe had been searching for ways to harm himself, but there was no evidence of this.
Joe had been looking forward to a lot of things – including Christmas, and eating dessert later on that evening.
In a written statement, Joe’s mum, Nicole, wrote: “He wanted to be an engineer when he grew up. Joe loved sport, drawing, music, building and making things, dressing up as a Viking warrior with his favourite sword and shield!”
The inquest heard that Joe had been awaiting potential diagnoses of Autistic Spectrum Disorder and ADHD. He was first referred to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAHMS) in 2019, but Nicole told the court that she felt ‘fobbed off’, and that he was seen as low priority because of his ‘supportive’ and stable family.
Joe and mum, Nicole, attended a face to face consultation with Dr Mohammed Ahmed, a consultant paediatrician for Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, on July 23, 2022.
Nicole filled out a questionnaire given to her by Dr Ahmed, but was ‘frustrated’ that it hadn’t reached the doctor.
Nicole said: “It was 36 months of waiting for a consultancy, and I felt fobbed off along the way. A diagnosis could have helped on more challenging days.”
A family statement read: “He is now making heaven a brighter place and he inspires us to live like he did- to be brave, curious and embrace nature.” A verdict of misadventure was returned.