A mother who left her toddler in a hot car, believing she had dropped him at childcare in the morning, was 'severely sleep deprived', the Victorian Coroner was told.
The Age reports Romy Zunde's 22-month-old son Noah was found dead in her car in Kyneton, Victoria in 2015 after she was returning to the childcare centre to collect him. Noah had been in the car the whole time.
His death is the subject of an inquest at the Coroner's Court of Victoria.
A medical report given to the Court stated that she falsely believed she had dropped him off at childcare in the morning, then returned home to do some chores. Then she returned to the childcare centre in the afternoon to collect him and found him in the car, not realising he had been there the whole time.
Ms Zunde had been suffering from probable gastroenteritis in the week leading up to Noah's death, and had been feeling nauseous and had been vomiting, leading to a lack of sleep.
The morning of the incident, she was sleep deprived and had to drop off a misplaced myki card to her partner. She was 'considerably distressed' by the change to her schedule, and after that she dropped her daughter off at school.
Instead of dropping Noah off at daycare, she went home to do some chores.
Neuroscientist Matthew Mundy suggested some reasons why her memory would have been affected by the events that day in the medical report. He mentioned that Noah's baby seat was not visible from the driver's seat.
"Without a visual cue to the presence of Noah, it is less likely that Romy Zunde would have been reminded of his presence after a failure in short-term memory of driving home instead of to Bambini daycare," the report said.
"Noah must have fallen asleep on the way ... he was probably asleep in the car which is something he hardly ever did," Ms Zunde told police in an interview.
"This seems important, since he would normally be making some kind of noise during the journey. Again, these observations would also suggest a lack of external 'cues' to prompt the maintenance of Romy's short-term memory".
The report also mentioned that sleep is important for memory consolidation, so the fact that she'd been so sleep deprived would have negatively impacted her memory. Professor Mundy suggested that she was suffering from 'forgotten baby syndrome'.
The inquest is set to take place at the Coroner's Court of Victoria on Wednesday.
The Herald Sun reports Ms Zunde's partner Andrew Krespanis announced the death of their son on Twitter.
"We lost our beautiful son today," He wrote.
"I love him more every day. Forever. I'll always know I cherished every day. Every laugh, every adventure, every cuddle.
"Hug your children. Hug them and never let them go."