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Monday, September 29, 2014

16 days old baby dies of suffocation by her parents after drinking vodka and smoking cannabis

16 days old baby dies of suffocation by her parents after drinking vodka and smoking cannabis16 days old baby dies of suffocation by her parents after drinking vodka and smoking cannabis
Letisha, 22 and her boyfriend accidentally suffocated their 16 days old baby Alesha Roberts after she was crammed into a single bed with her parents while they slept after drinking vodka and smoking cannabis.  Alesha was found unresponsive in the bed at 4am and died, despite efforts to save her.

Police investigating the incident charged Ms Roberts with causing Alesha's death by 'overlaying' and child neglect but the allegations were dropped after medical reports differed over whether or not the baby died of suffocation.


The hearing was told Ms Roberts - who has since given birth to another daughter - had been given 'safe sleeping' advice for a baby by a midwife yet she was not 'fully conscious' of the risk factors of drug use, drink and smoking in front of the child.

The tragedy occurred in November 2012 after Ms Roberts from Old Swan, Liverpool, took Alesha to visit Alesha's Iraqi father at his one bedroom flat in Blackpool.  The father, named only at the hearing as 'Ahmed', had moved to the seaside resort to find work but has since returned to his native country.
Ms Roberts intended staying for two days after Alesha's birth on October 30.
 
The inquest heard how the baby would normally sleep in her own cot at home but had to sleep in a car seat whilst at the flat.  On November 15, the couple spent the afternoon in Blackpool before returning to the flat at around 5pm ordering a takeaway, consuming vodka and smoking cannabis and cigarettes whilst Alesha fell asleep in the car seat.

Ms Roberts told the hearing: 'I had never smoked cannabis before that night. He smoked it from time to time but he would always go outside. I said I wanted to go, but he said: "no stay".
'I said "what are we going to do" and he said we'd get a drink from over the road. We had a drink and then had a takeaway.'
'I just had a little bit. I did one or two (puffs) and that was it. It was only one or two.'
Alesha woke around 2am needing to feed and Ahmed passed the little girl to Ms Roberts who then breast fed the baby in bed whilst he fell asleep. Ms Roberts told the inquest that she had lay the baby between them both in the single bed in order to 'cuddle'.
'As soon as you feed her she was happy,' she added. 'We were all having a little cuddle. I wouldn't say it was a conscious effort to keep us all together. It was a single bed. I think Ahmed woke up before me, it seems to black out.
'He said something was wrong with the baby. I would say she was on her back not wedged. She had a little sick, I went to wipe it off and I jumped. It clicked. I rang the ambulance straight away. We were doing CPR, blowing in her mouth.'
Alesha was pronounced dead at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Blackpool. Both parents were later arrested and interviewed under caution but Ahmed was later released on the basis that he had fallen asleep and was not to know that the baby had been placed between them.

Blood samples were taken from both and despite no alcohol being found because of the time lapse since consumption, drugs were found.
Detective Chief Inspector Anthony Baxter said: 'Letisha had been told about co-sleeping, and on top of that our evidence shows that drink has been taken and that drugs have been taken. There's an unsafe sleeping environment in a single bed between two people - potential overlaying.

'The CPS took the decision to charge Letisha and a decision was taken not to charge Ahmed on the basis that although Ahmed had got the baby out of the car seat and handed to Letisha to feed, he fell asleep and wouldn't know the baby was left in bed.'
Ms Roberts was due to face trial at Preston Crown Court in March until a doctor produced a report which said it could not necessarily be concluded that overlaying, or suffocating by lying on top of the child, was the cause of Alesha's death.
A post mortem examination showed no injuries were sustained to the baby and a medical cause of death was given as unascertained.
The court heard that the baby's death could have been attributed to 'overlaying' by one of her parents but other factors could have increased the baby's risk of Sudden Infant Death (SID), including the parents' alcohol and drug use, smoking and a hot room.
Pathologist Dr Gauri Batra of the Manchester Children's Hospital said the fact Alesha slept in the car seat was not 'the best position' but accepted that it hadn't been a routine.
She added: 'In my opinion co-sleeping and alcohol consumption, drug use, smoking - not necessarily around the baby, but parental smoking even in a well ventilated room, smoking by parents during pregnancy or after, is a risk factor. The room being too warm and co-sleeping in a small space is another risk factor for SID.'
The inquest heard that Alesha, who was born slightly premature at 36 weeks and with a low birth weight of 5lb 4oz, had been developing well.

Midwife Joan Cottington said that she had discussed 'safe sleeping' with Ms Roberts and that she was given a pack as well as discussions about the dangers of co-sleeping. The midwife had visited her Liverpool home on November 6 and 11 and upon both visits there had been 'no concerns'.

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