Baby Girl Suffocates Between Parents In Their Bed After They Had Been Drinking

February 10, 2018
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A baby girl has died from suffocation in her parents’ bed after they drank alcohol in their squalid home.

A Carlisle Crown Court judge has ordered the couple to jail for two years after describing their actions as a ‘dereliction’ of their duty to protect their child.

Doctors made several attempts to revive the child, who had stopped breathing as she lay between her parents on a single mattress but the tot could not be saved.

Prosecutor Huw Edwards told the courts how shortly before 3 am on the day of the tragedy the county’s ambulance service received an emergency call from the couple’s Cumbrian home.

The couple had woken to find their daughter was not breathing. The baby was pronounced dead at 3.30am at a local hospital.

The court heard that there was no working toilet, mouldy food in the fridge, and there was considerable evidence of drinking, which included 15 empty lager cans and three empty bottles of vodka.

A detective initially spoke to the mother at the hospital.

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

The baby had been lying between the two defendants when the mother fell asleep.

‘Both defendants admitted to drinking on the night in question. The father said he had drunk four cans of Stella Artois lager, and the mother said she had drunk one or two small vodka and cokes.

‘The father said he had smoked cannabis the day before but not on the night..’

Describing the state of the couple’s home, Mr Edwards said: ‘There was no working toilet. Instead, there was a bin bag with human waste in it. There was mouldy food in the fridge.

‘There were 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.’

She admitted falling asleep with (the baby) in her arms at about 11.30pm, waking up at 2.40am to find her lifeless 

Tests indicated that the baby had died as a result of ‘overlaying’ – which is a kind of asphyxiation.

The mother told officials that the first thing she recalled after taking her daughter out of her moses basket to breastfeed her on the mattress was being woken up by the father and being told their baby was not breathing.

Clare Thomas, for the mother, said that she had not sought to blame anybody for the bad decisions she made.

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 cooperated with the agencies working with her and done all that was asked of her. She also had the full support of her family, said Miss Thomas.

Kim Whittlestone, for the father, said that the mother was struggling and they were supporting each other.

The father however, could not support her in the way required because he was dealing with his own drug and alcohol addiction.

The father had sought help from his GP for various of his issues, said the barrister.

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.’

Whittlestone said that the father was very emotional when talking about the tragedy, which the barrister described as being the result of a reckless act which had tragic consequences.

The father was now alcohol-free and hoped to return to his old job.

Passing sentence, Judge Peter Hughes QC told the couple that this was not a case of a simple misjudgement with tragic and unforeseeable consequences.

The couple were jointy responsible for their baby’s death, he said.

Judge Hughes has described the conditions in the couple’s home as ‘squalid in the extreme’.

A jail term was necessary to mark the seriousness of the offence.

The judge said to the defendants: ‘It was a serious dereliction of the duty you had to protect and safeguard your baby.’

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