UK drug abused dead baby found with anti-depressants, cocaine in stomach


Police found drugs and a syringe at the family home after the baby’s death. Photo / Thinkstock
A 6-month old baby in the who died unexpectedly in the care of her
drug-taking parents had traces of cocaine, strong opiate pain killers
and an anti-depressant in her stomach, a review into her tragic death
has revealed.
A Liverpool review board today published findings
on a report which considered events between August 2011 and July 2013
when the newborn baby, given the alias Mary, suddenly died at her family
home in Liverpool. After baby ‘Mary’ died, police found empty beer cans, drugs and a syringe at her family home
During this period, the family were flagged up to the Children’s Social Care on five occasions.
the review by the Liverpool Safeguarding Children Board, chaired by
Howard Cooper, concluded that predicting Mary’s death “is difficult to
achieve with any meaningful degree of accuracy.
“It cannot be
inferred that child Mary’s death was preventable, but there are lessons
to be learned for all the agencies involved with this family about
multi-agency working,” it said.

Mary was the youngest child of a family of four. At the time
of her death, her mother (referred to as AB) was 30, her father (called
CD in the report) was aged 33, and her siblings were aged one, eight and
The family were first brought to the attention of social
services before Mary was born, over an alleged domestic incident which
AB later refuted to police. A social worker concluded no further action
was needed and children were not at risk.
Several months later,
an anonymous caller told social workers that there was “lots of shouting
in the home, that the children were unkempt and did not attend school
and that the parents pretended to be out when callers came to the house.
It was also alleged that the home was smelly,” the report disclosed.
But a Health Visitor confirmed that the home was “sparse but not dirty” and said she had no concerns.
checks with the school confirmed that the two school-age children were
“constantly late for school”, while the children’s health was also put
into question, as they were reported to be “significantly overweight”.
problems with attendance, concerns surrounding drug use in the parental
home, and missed meetings by parents led the Deputy Headteacher of the
children’s school reporting AB and CD to Careline.
In January
2013, Mary was born 12 weeks early at Alder Hey, and was diagnosed with
several medical conditions associated with prematurity including a heart
murmur, metabolic bone disease and adrenal deficiency.
She was
kept in hospital for three months, but after AB was discharged three
days after Mary’s birth, “parents visited or rang the hospital but there
were several consecutive days when Child Mary had no contact with mum
or family, the longest being a period of 11 days,” according to the
Months after Mary’s death, her mother was diagnosed with
depression and was given prescription medication. Two months later in
July 2013, a Health Visitor attempted to visit the home to check on the
family, but Mary’s mother kept her on the doorstep, and the baby was not
The next day, Mary died suddenly and unexpectedly.
said she had placed Mary on a double bed upstairs, but found her 3
hours later lying unresponsive on the floor and on top of articles and
clothing next to the bed.
A pathologist who assessed Mary’s
death, which the report describes as “tragic”, said that the small
amounts of cocaine, tramadol and mirtazapine in Mary’s stomach could
have been due to contamination from the environment, or during
resuscitation, and did not contribute to her death.
The coroner concluded that the cause of death was “unascertained”.
Mary died, police found empty beer cans, drugs and a syringe on the
premises and AB admitted to the police, the use of cocaine and cannabis
in the home.
The report said a number of recommendation have now
been made to improve how families and agencies work together when
supporting vulnerable children and their families.
Those included
an assessment that the follow-up services by Mary’s hospital and
community health services were “ineffective” for a vulnerable baby in
the care of parents with a “very poor history of co-operation”.
panel also criticised the lack of a multi-agency system for monitoring
missed medical appointments, resulting “potentially significant” signs
of neglect being missed.

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