Baby suffocates after she’s left on mattress between parents who’d been drinking

The parents of a baby who suffocated lying between them on a single mattress have been jailed for child cruelty.

The couple, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had been drinking in the hours leading up to the tragic incident prompting a judge to blast them for their "dereliction of duty".

The pair fell asleep at a "squalid" Cumbrian home, with the mother dozing with her baby daughter in her arms.


But Carlisle Crown Court heard at around 2.40am they woke horrified to find the tot lifeless and not breathing.

She was pronounced dead at hospital, with a post-mortem revealing the cause of death was "overlaying" – a form of asphyxiation.

The couple both admitted a charge of child cruelty and wept on Friday as a judge blasted their "dereliction of duty".

The court heard about the conditions in their home, with mouldy food in the fridge and no working toilet. 


Judge Peter Hughes QC noted a pathologist report which said it was "unsafe practice" for two adults to sleep on a single mattress with a child so young. 


Judge Hughes told them: "Such a prison sentence is necessary to mark the seriousness of the offence but also to ensure the public that such conduct, when it occurs, will be dealt with accordingly." 


He had told the pair they should both bear "heavy responsibility" for what happened and added: "It was a serious dereliction of the duty that you had to protect and safeguard your baby." 


Prosecutor Huw Edwards said how shortly before 3am on the day of the tragedy the ambulance service received a 999 call from their home.

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They had woken to find their daughter was not breathing. The baby was pronounced dead half an hour later at a local hospital. 


The court heard there was considerable evidence of drinking at the address, with 15 empty lager cans and three empty vodka bottles found.

Mr Edwards said: "She admitted falling asleep with the baby in her arms at about 11.30pm, waking up at 2.40am to find her lifeless. 


"The baby had been lying between the two defendants when the mother fell asleep. 
"Both defendants admitted to drinking on the night in question. He had drunk four cans of Stella Artois lager, and she had drunk one or two small vodka and cokes. 


"The father had smoked cannabis the day before but not on the night."

He added: "There was no working toilet. Instead, there was a bin bag with human waste in it.

"There was mouldy food in the fridge and too few beds. 


"There was evidence that a significant amount of alcohol had been consumed. There were 15 empty cans of Stella and three empty bottles of vodka.


"The back yard was covered in dog faeces and full bin bags." 


The mother told police she woke and took her daughter out of her basket to breast feed her on the mattress. Her partner then told her their baby was not breathing. 


Clare Thomas, defending the mother, said she had not sought to blame anybody else for what happened. 


She said: "This is a tragic case; an upsetting case for anybody. She has to live with what she has done every day.

"Whatever the punishment of this court, she is constantly thinking about her baby and the decision she made which brought about this tragic event."

The court heard that a midwife had previously warned the couple about the dangers of sleeping with their baby. 


"She knows she should not have done it," said Miss Thomas. "And she knows she should not have had a drink. 
She has made some very bad decisions and she and her family will have to live with the consequences for their rest of their lives. She takes full responsibility."

Since the tragedy, the mother had cooperated with the agencies working with her.

She also had the full support of her family, said Miss Thomas. 


Kim Whittlestone, defending the father, said his partner was struggling and they were supporting each other but he was also dealing with his own drug and alcohol addiction.

Miss Whittlestone said: "Things effectively spiraled out of control and he was doing his best to support his partner. 


"Both consumed alcohol that evening. He had an addiction to cannabis and he was seeking help for that. 


"He will forever regret his actions on that evening."

Miss Whittlestone said the father was very emotional when talking about the tragedy, which "was the result of a reckless act which had tragic consequences."

She added he was now alcohol free and hoped to return to his old job.

Source: https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/parents-baby-who-suffocated-lying-12007302

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