Kim Smart-Neil: “I’ve had a lot of counselling since it happened. I just have to accept it and it will wash over.”
A mother whose baby boy died after she spent hours drinking with his father is still living with her other son, MailOnline can reveal.
Freddie Neil was found dead wedged between a wall and a bed in 2014 and a review later found his parents, Matthew Neil and Kim Smart-Neil, had been drinking for the day and evening before.
But the youngster’s older brother is still living with his mother, as well as other relatives, after she was told she would not face charges over Freddie’s death.
Ms Smart-Neil today insisted she wasn’t drunk on the tragic night when Freddie died at his family home in Blackpool, Lancashire.
Speaking for the first time since a review into his death was made public, she told MailOnline: “I’m not an alcoholic and I only had two drinks on that evening.
“It’s been made out that we were totally p***** but we weren’t. There was alcohol there but we had friends round.””My ex-partner has a drink problem but he’s a functioning alcoholic and you can’t tell he’s drunk. On that evening I just thought he’d gone to sleep.
She added: “I’ve had a lot of counselling since it happened. I just have to accept it and it will wash over.
“There’s a lot of different sides to the story and the people who know me know that.”
A review of the circumstances around Freddie’s death found that Ms Smart-Neil and her former partner Matthew Neil had been drinking for 24-hours before his death.
They went to a local pub in Blackpool on Christmas Day 2014 before drinking more alcohol with friends at their terraced home, the review found.
Freddie Neil died in 2014. A review found his parents had been drinking throughout the previous day and night.
Ms Smart-Neil went to bed in the early hours of Boxing Day and Mr Neil stayed up with Freddie until 6am before going to bed himself.
The review stated: “It is unknown what happened in terms of [Freddie] being put to bed or where after being fed at 5am, as both parents were unable to account clearly for their actions regarding [the baby] overnight and into the following morning.
“Alcohol was evidently a feature in the lives of [the] family, due to father’s regular drinking, including over the 24 hours leading to the death.”
Freddie’s older brother woke the parents after taking his soiled nappy off himself at around noon on Boxing Day.
Freddie was found unconscious between a wall and a bed in a different room from his parents’ room, where he usually slept.
Paramedics were called but the youngster was pronounced dead at hospital.
The review stated: “Accounts have been obtained that the couple were celebrating at home and in a local public house, with friends and the two children, with alcohol being consumed by the adults throughout the afternoon and evening, and overnight into the next day.”
But Mr Neil – who had previously admitted drinking “seven plus pints per day” – later claimed neither he nor his partner were “inebriated” but that “we both had more than we should’ve”.
Matthew Neil was described a s a functioning alcoholic by his ex.
Mr Neil and Ms Smart-Neil were arrested and charged with neglect and manslaughter but the CPS later decided to drop charges after deciding there was not enough evidence.
Coroner Alan Wilson, who recorded an open verdict, heard that Freddie had bronchitis and it was impossible to say what exactly caused his death.
A pathologist said she believed his death was caused largely by unsafe sleeping arrangements.
The safeguarding review found that no public body could be blamed for Freddie’s death and that his parents had, before the night he passed away, provided a “safe environment for him”.
The review found Mr Neil had twice turned up at Freddie’s brother’s nursery smelling of alcohol, although staff did not believe him to be “under the influence”, the report said.
He did not seek help from drug and alcohol services until after Freddie’s death despite advice from his GP, it added.
Claude Knights, the chief executive officer of childrens’ charity Kidscape, has said of the case: “This is a very sad and most distressing case involving the avoidable tragic death of a helpless newborn baby and the gross neglect of a toddler.
“There is no doubt that parents with severe addictions need more support, but we must also send out strong messages regarding consequences to actions, so as to deter others from behaving in a manner which puts young children at risk of harm. The lack of evidence verdict does not act as a deterrent.
“It is to be hoped that some form of treatment programme was imposed on the parents as they may go on to have other children.”