Coroner warns parents of babies sleeping on sofas after six-month-old boy dies at Northampton flat

"I do feel it is important to say the public should be aware that a little six-month-old baby boy sleeping on a sofa is not a safe sleeping environment"

Thursday, 3rd June 2021, 7:04 am
Updated Thursday, 3rd June 2021, 7:08 am

A coroner has warned parents about the dangers of babies sleeping on sofas after a six-month-old baby boy was found dead by his mother in their Northampton flat.

The child - who the Chron and Echo has chosen not to identify - was confirmed dead on Wednesday, April 15 last year after being found 'unresponsive' and 'not breathing' at the family home in Chalcombe Avenue.

The inquest into the boy's death took place yesterday (Wednesday, June 2) in Northampton town centre.

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The inquest took place at Sessions House in Northampton town centre

In a statement read out at the inquest, the boy's mother said: "He will always be in our hearts and in our minds."

The father also paid tribute to his son. He said: "He was absolutely a healthy child and he will always remain with us in our hearts."

On the evening of the incident, the inquest heard how the family were all home during the early stages of lockdown and decided to spend the evening watching television in the living room.

The inquest heard how the father bought two bottles of Shiraz wine and came home to cook that night.

The baby and his two other siblings were on their own in the living room watching cartoons, while the father says he was 2.5 metres away in the kitchen, the inquest was told.

The mother said in her statement that her baby was placed down on the sofa to sleep and had blankets and pillows surrounding him to prevent him rolling off.

She said in her statement: "I came over to check on him as it seemed to me he had been sleeping too long, which was unusual.

"I can't say exactly how long he napped for but I immediately saw his lips were different, blue.

"I turned to my partner and told him to call an ambulance as there was something wrong. It looked like he was just sleeping but he was not responding."

The inquest heard how the father then called an ambulance and gave the baby CPR, while the mother took the other two young children upstairs.

The father said in his statement that he had drank about a bottle of wine. He said: "He was sleeping longer than usual and I picked him up and and saw he was not breathing.

"What happened next, I have forgotten memory of that evening after then.

"I don't remember going to NGH or how I got home from the hospital. I also don't remember police officers looking after the children."

The paramedic who attended the scene said in her statement: "The baby was unattended when I went in. The mother was sobbing and appeared very distressed.

"I went straight over to check the baby to see if he was breathing but he was not.

"He was still unresponsive and not breathing. My first impression was he was deceased."

The baby was transferred to NGH at around 11.10pm but he did not respond to the life support and was confirmed dead at 11.25pm, the inquest was told.

Police confirmed at the inquest that the parents 'were both intoxicated'.

The father was arrested that night and the mother was described by police as 'extremely drunk'. They were both breathalysed the next morning, 13.5 hours after the incident.

The father recorded 131mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood. And the mother recorded 249mg of alcohol per 100ml blood, the police officer told the inquest.

The drink-drive limit is 80mg per 100ml of blood.

Doctor Stuart Hamilton, who conducted the post-mortem, 'regrettably' told the inquest the cause of death was unascertained but highlighted the dangers of babies sleeping alone.

He said: "I cannot offer any helpful comment regarding how long he may have been in a state of cardiac arrest. Medical science simply does not allow us to speculate how long that had been.

"It is understood that a baby sleeping on a sofa is not the safest environment for them."

Coroner Anne Pember, who has warned parents previously of the dangers of children sleeping alone, said: "I do feel it is important to say the public should be aware that a little six-month-old baby boy sleeping on a sofa is not a safe sleeping environment."

The corner said at the last inquest involving the death of a young child: "I have seen several inquests in recent weeks where young babies have died in relation to co-sleeping.

"Parents with young babies should be aware that co-sleeping is not a safe environment for them.

"I would want the public to know about the very real dangers of carrying babies to bed in this way."

The coroner recorded an open conclusion.