Sydnie Macfarlane, 28,(pictured in an image taken from social media) died after taking a lethal drugs cocktail, which she also fed to daughter Dolce Dada, nine, and three-year-old son Rhys Dada
A depressed single mother facing eviction, the public exposure of an infidelity and the breakdown of a close friendship killed herself and her two young children, a coroner has ruled
Sydnie Macfarlane, 28, a children’s ward worker, died after taking a lethal drugs cocktail, which she also fed to daughter Dolce Dada, nine, and three-year-old son Rhys Dada, at their home in Greenwich, south-east London, between January 27 and 30 last year.
The bodies were found in the mother’s bed after concerned family members contacted police.
She had also miscarried while pregnant with a third child, the court heard.
Southwark Coroner’s Court heard Ms Macfarlane had engaged with social services, and had previously expressed some suicidal thoughts, but had later appeared optimistic about life – particularly her plan to become a care worker.
But the court heard Ms Macfarlane had also recently become distressed about an ‘infidelity’ exposed a fortnight before her death.
Details of who was involved in the tryst were not disclosed in court.
Dolce-Mai Dada, nine, and Rhys Dada, three, pictured together. In the days before her death Ms Macfarlane told a friend she had ‘nothing to live for’ and her former partner Sean Dada was seeking full custody of their children
Ms Macfarlane’s friend Shauneen Langford-Bell said the mother-of-two had been very upset on the Friday before she died, saying: ‘(Ms Macfarlane) said she had lost me and she had nothing to live for.’
Coroner Andrew Harris recorded verdicts of unlawful death for the children, and suicide for the mother.
He said: ‘She hid the depths of her depression from others and took a lethal overdose of drugs.
‘She was suffering from increasing domestic stress including financial problems, a miscarriage, exposure of infidelity, the loss of a friend, potential custody battle for her children and imminent eviction.
‘She was depressed, but she sought and received family help and didn’t follow up on any anti-depressants or call any help lines.
‘She hid the depths of her depression for others and took a lethal overdose of drugs.’
The court heard Ms Macfarlane – who was described as having had a ‘difficult childhood’ with drug addict parents but who had never used drugs herself – was worried about being evicted, but family said she was being supported in lodging an appeal and was offered accommodation elsewhere.
Dolce-Mai Dada smiling and holding her baby brother Rhys Dada in a picture taken in 2014
Dolce-Mai Dada, nine, and Rhys Dada, three, (pictured) were found dead last January in their Greenwich home after ingesting a toxic mix of drugs, alongside their mother Sydnie-Blu Macfarlane, 28
In the days before her death Ms Macfarlane told a friend she had ‘nothing to live for’ and her former partner Sean Dada was seeking full custody of their children. Pictured is Dolce-Mai
The inquest at Southwark Coroner’s Court heard how a handwritten note was found in the house stating: ‘We are to be buried together. No one is to separate me from my babies.’ Pictured is Sydnie-Blu Macfarlane
The children’s father Sean Dada, an engineer, said he also tried to soothe Ms Macfarlane’s concerns about the children subsequently going into care if she was evicted, saying: ‘It was not going to happen.’
Prince Boampong, a psychiatric nurse who saw Ms Macfarlane in the August before her death, denied the patient’s mental health was of serious concern, and said another medical opinion that she would not ‘kill herself because of her children’ was perfectly accurate.
He said: ‘I would say she was going through stress. She was in distress, not insane.
‘During the assessment she disclosed that she had been depressed since the age of 14. She was feeling in a low mood because of things going on in her life, the main trigger was housing problems.
‘I asked her about the future, she said the future was positive.
‘I asked her about the future, she said the future was positive. She was a health care assistant working in a children’s ward and she wanted to go back to it when things settled down. Her death came as a shock.’
He added: ‘She disclosed she had been depressed since the age of 14.
‘And for the past month she had been feeling in low mood because of things that had been going on in her life. The main trigger was her housing problem.’
Ms Macfarlane’s mother Angela Macfarlane told the inquest: ‘She was a great mum, a great daughter and I never dreamed that anything like this would happen’
The family were referred to social services in 2015 after Ms Macfarlane, during a conversation with the Department for Work and Pensions, made the comment: ‘I don’t think there is any point in me carrying on with the children cos I’ve got no money.’
The inquest also heard from Jaqueline Augustene, grandmother of the two children and mother of their father Sean.
She said she knew Sydnie ‘had a difficult childhood because her parents were drug addicts and she had to look after her sister’, but said she never did drugs and was against them.
WHAT IS METHADONE?
Methadone reduces withdrawal symptoms in people addicted to heroin without causing the high.
Methadone is used as a pain reliever and as part of drug addiction detoxification and maintenance programs and is only available from certified pharmacies.
Methadone can slow or stop breathing, especially when a patient start using it or if a dose is changed.
She last saw her on January 25 and said: ‘She was pre-occupied with texting..
‘But she seemed quite optimistic and she had applied for a job with St John Ambulance. She was quite positive.
‘I have never seen her depressed, but I have seen her feeling down now and then.’
She described Sydnie as a ‘very kind hearted girl’ but had ‘changed in the months before she died’.
The coroner absolved social services and health care teams of blame over the deaths, following a Serious Case Review.
He said: ‘It’s speculation to claim these bodies could have prevented the deaths of these people.
‘My view is the organisations concerned have learned from the lessons of this.’
Members of the victims’ family left court without comment.
For confidential support call the Samaritans on 116 123, or visit a local Samaritans branch – see samaritans.org for details.
The inquest at Southwark Coroner’s Court (pictured) heard how a handwritten note was found in the house stating: ‘We are to be buried together. No one is to separate me from my babies’