Mum ‘getting ready for Christmas’ day before her and baby found dead, says best friend

The best friend of a mother and baby who tragically died on Christmas Eve has spoken for the first time of her grief.

Natalie Kane and her one-year-old son, Harry had planned to spend Christmas Day 2021 with Stacey Hackett in Whitehaven, Cumbria.

But a recent inquest heard that on Christmas Eve, 27-year-old Natalie tragically died from inhaling lighter fluid and her baby son died later from dehydration.

Their bodies were only discovered on December 30 after the alarm was raised.

Best friend Stacey says will forever live with the guilt of wondering if she could have saved Natalie and Harry and finds some comfort in visiting the grave where the loving mum and baby are buried together.

Stacey, 35, says: “Natalie had arranged to spend Christmas Day with me. On Christmas Eve, we had been out shopping and I babysat Harry whilst Natalie got her nails done, ready for Christmas.

“She was a devoted mother, she had really turned her life around since having Harry, and she was so looking forward to her first proper Christmas with him.

“I will never get over losing them both. If any good can come from this, I hope that others will learn how important it is to speak out about mental health and depression.

“It’s so important to check on friends and neighbours, at Christmas and every other day too. I will always wonder if they could have been saved.”

The friends met in 2018 and Natalie was recovering from addiction.

Stacey says: “Natalie and I became really good friends. She was suffering with depression, and she had very little confidence in herself. Her parents had both passed away.

“She’d been a model and she’d travelled the world as a sea cadet. She was an HGV driver in the army for several years and she’d had a promising career, but her health meant she couldn’t carry on.”

Natalie had a son, Harry, in October 2020, and his birth was a turning point.

Stacey says: “Having Harry changed her life. She was a wonderful mum, absolutely devoted to him. She was out every day with him, at the park or down at the beach in nice weather.

“We had so many happy times.”

Stacey invited Natalie and Harry to spend Christmas Day 2021 with her. On Christmas Eve, they went out shopping for last minute wrapping paper.

Stacey says: “This was Harry’s first proper Christmas and Natalie had gone overboard with loads of presents. She couldn’t wait for Christmas.

“On Christmas Eve I babysat Harry for a couple of hours whilst she had her nails done. She was in a really good mood.”

On Christmas Day, Natalie and Harry failed to show up at Stacey’s.

Stacey says: “I knew from experience that Natalie sometimes wanted quiet time, just her and Harry. It was part of her depression. I just thought it was best to leave her to do that.

“I didn’t want to call and put pressure on her, to come over for Christmas. I felt sure I’d hear from her in a day or two when she was ready. I kept hers and Harry’s presents waiting for them.”

By December 29, Stacey was starting to worry and made arrangements with another pal to visit Natalie the following day.

But before their visit, the alarm was raised.

A routine welfare check on Natalie found both her and Harry dead in her flat.

Stacey says: “I was heartbroken. The shock will live with me forever. I could never have dreamed that she was dead. I don’t for a moment believe she had overdosed; she was really loving life and she had so much to look forward to. She doted on her little boy.

“The thought of Harry crying in the flat, and nobody coming to him, is so upsetting. It’s a lesson to us all to check on our friends and neighbours over Christmas, and all year round.

“I didn’t know that Natalie was struggling and if I had, I’d have taken her absence over Christmas more seriously. I think she kept it from me because she didn’t want to be judged, as a mother or a friend.

“It’s so sad, because if she’d confided in me, I could have helped and supported her.”

An inquest last week heard that Natalie Kane had only prescribe

d methadone in her system when it was checked a week before her death.

However, on the evening of Christmas Eve, she seemingly decided to inhale lighter fluid and suffered catastrophic effects.

The inquest heard that Natalie struggled with depression and was receiving support from services including Recovery Steps Cumbria and Women Out West after drug addiction and domestic abuse.

She was described as a loving and devoted mother.

On December 30, concern was raised over the fact Natalie had not picked up a prescription or been in contact with any of the services and the police were contacted.

An officer attended and could get no response at the address. He spoke to neighbours in the surrounding flats who recalled not seeing her for a few days.

The neighbour directly below recalled hearing a tap running constantly but no other noises.

The officer discovered Natalie lying in the living room next to unopened Christmas presents.

Harry’s body was then found in the bathroom.

Post mortems were carried out and it is believed that Harry may have survived for two to three days after his mum’s death before succumbing to the effects of dehydration.

Concluding the inquest, the coroner said: “She’d done so well, she’d changed her life around, she clearly wasn’t abusing heroin which had been her drug of choice.”

“Natalie Kane died at her home address on an unknown time between the 24th and 25th of December.

“Harry died as a consequence of dehydration having been left alone following the death of his mother.”

Stacey said: “Women Out West, who helped Natalie, are hoping to fund an app in her memory which we hope with save the lives of others.

“I will visit her and Harry at the grave at Christmas and try to remember all the happy times we shared.”