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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 October 2005, 10:14 GMT 11:14 UK
Boy, 3, is found with dead mother
Block of flats in North Fort Street, Leith
The mother's body was found in a flat in North Fort Street
A three-year-old boy survived alone for a fortnight in an Edinburgh flat alongside the body of his dead mother.

The body of Anne-Marie McGarrity, 33, was found at the fifth floor flat in North Fort Street, Leith, on Saturday.

The dead woman's son, Michael, was thought to have survived on food kept in the larder.

His grandmother alerted police after he failed to turn up at nursery. She was reported to have described the boy as "like a skeleton" and very weak.

The boy has been undergoing treatment for dehydration at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh.

NHS Lothian said the boy was "doing well" and should be discharged within a few days.

He played with his Thomas the Tank Engine and went to his potty regularly
Eleanor McGarrity

Lothian and Borders Police said there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding his mother's death. Initial post-mortem tests have proved inconclusive as to the cause of death.

A spokesman said: "Following inquiries with various agencies, officers broke into a flat in the Leith area of the city.

"Inside, they found the body of a woman and a three-year-old child. The child is currently being checked out at a local hospital."

Michael's grandmother, Eleanor McGarrity, told the Daily Record newspaper she alerted police after staff at the boy's nursery became worried and phoned her.

'Tough wee soul'

She said: "Michael is a tough wee soul but I can't believe how he just got on with things by himself.

"It appears that he played with his Thomas the Tank Engine and went to his potty regularly.

"He was like a skeleton on Saturday night. He was very, very weak and very thin.

"He is still lethargic and sleepy and his speech is affected because of the dehydration. But we are confident he will make a full recovery. He is such a brave wee soul."

Plenty of food

She said there seemed to have been "plenty of food" in the flat, such as fresh fruit, yoghurts, cheese, crisps, and cartons of Ribena and apple juice.

The grandmother added: "He was Anne-Marie's only child and she did the things mums do - she took him to the playgroup and read to him.

"She did not deserve this to happen, and I can't bring myself to go back to her flat at the moment.

"The police would not even let me see her to identify her. They did it through blood tests."

Leith Fort sign
Michael survived in the flat for two weeks

One of Ms McGarrity's neighbours told BBC Scotland she was shocked by her death.

Moira Chisholm said: "I'm horrified for Anne-Marie and I'm horrified Michael was in there for so long by himself, the poor wee soul.

"I hadn't seen her for a couple of weeks and I mentioned it to a couple of people.

"The first we knew was Saturday night when the police were at our door with the forensic people.

"Even then we still didn't know as they wouldn't tell us anything. I think it's awful, it's so sad as she was such a nice woman."

The local MP for Leith, Mark Lazarowicz, called for an inquiry and said questions needed to be answered to avoid a reoccurrence.

A spokeswoman for Edinburgh City Council said there was no social work care order on Michael.

"However, we are working with other agencies to establish what happened and provide support for the family at this time," she added.

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