Six-week-old baby tragically died after 'otherwise exceptional' Northampton parents were too drunk to care for her

Despite being charged with willful neglect, a judge spoke warmly to the couple and said he saw they were otherwise "remarkable" parents

Friday, 18th June 2021, 4:12 pm
Updated Friday, 18th June 2021, 4:14 pm
A mother and father have been spared jail over the death of their daughter when they were too drunk to properly care for her.
A mother and father have been spared jail over the death of their daughter when they were too drunk to properly care for her.

Two parents were acknowledged as "otherwise exceptional" on the day they were spared jail over the death of their infant daughter.

The little girl died in an incident after her mother and father came home after a night out and asking the child's grandparent to babysit.

Police investigations led to the discovery of CCTV footage in the Revolution bar in Bridge Street which showed the couple drinking heavily for more than four hours.

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The mother was subsequently estimated to have been up to three times the drink-drive limit while her partner had traces of cocaine in his blood.

Tragically, both parents were too drunk to know why their daughter was placed in their adult bed - only that when the mother woke up at 3am, she found their baby lifeless.

Despite calling 999 immediately, nothing could be done to revive her.

The pair co-operated with police and pleaded guilty to willful neglect likely to cause injury to a child on account they were too intoxicated to properly care for their baby.

At Northampton Crown Court on Thursday (June 17), a judge spoke to them warmly and acknowledged them as otherwise "remarkable" parents but for this one tragedy, before sparing them from jail.

His Honour Judge Rupert Mayo said: "I make it completely plain that the case you've pleaded guilty to involves cruelty to a child who died because you failed to provide proper care. I am required to pass a sentence.

"But I will spell this out, for that those read reports of this case, that even if I chose to pass to a custodial sentence I would have no hesitation in suspending it.

"You are two remarkable people who have to to deal with grief that will never leave you.

"I hope the conclusions of this case will bring some relief to you both."

The couple were handed a 12-month community order and committed to 20 days of rehabilitation requirement so they could access counselling.

One of the couple's defence barrister's, Mr James House QC, also said: "Not a minute, not an hour, not a day goes by where [the mother] does not blame herself for what happened.

"She has always said this case is not about her, but about her baby."

DS Cathy O’Connor, of Northamptonshire Police’s child protection team, said: “This tragic but sadly not isolated case illustrates the very real dangers of caring for children while under the influence of drink or drugs and – most especially - the risks around co-sleeping with babies.