News We must prevent another Child E
CHILDREN’S charity the NSPCC has urged people to act to prevent any repeat of the “tragic” case of the baby who died with cocaine and alcohol in his system.
A five-month-old baby boy, known only as Child E, was found unconscious at his Coventry family home after he had slept in a bed with his mother and her brother following a party.
The mother said she had drank six or seven cans of lager before taking the baby to the bedroom at about 4.30am.
She then fell asleep with her arm over the baby’s stomach before being woken up at about 9am to the sound of her brother screaming the baby’s name.
The baby arrived at hospital with dirt in his ears, armpits, fingernails and navel. He also had severe cradle cap and a full wet nappy.
After failed attempts to resuscitate him, the baby boy was pronounced dead at University Hospital, in Walsgrave, in May 2014.
It later emerged that there were traces of cocaine and alcohol in his system when he died.
Despite evidence of the youngster living in “filthy” conditions, as well as evidence of “drug use, cannabis cultivation” and “possible neglect and domestic violence” in his home, nobody has been charged over the death of Child E.
An NSPCC spokesman said: “This child was living in appalling conditions before his tragic death, with a serious case review detailing disturbing evidence of drug and alcohol abuse.
“Keeping children safe is everyone’s responsibility, and though the review said there were no significant reasons for the authorities to be concerned at the time, we would urge anyone who has any suspicions or worries about a child’s welfare to speak out.
“It could ensure the child gets the help they need, before it’s too late.
“They can call the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000 and speak to trained advisers who, if necessary, can act on their behalf.”
A serious case review report outlined the circumstances leading up to the death of Child E.
An inquest in April 2015 recorded a verdict of accidental death with asphyxia as the cause. Traces of cocaine and cocaethylene, formed when alcohol mixes with cocaine, were found in Child E’s blood, bowel and urine. But the report added there was no suggestion drugs or booze had been given to the baby deliberately.
It read: “The pathologist stated that the death should not be considered as the result of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) as factors such as the unsafe sleeping environment, toxicological status or a combination may have played a role in Child E’s death.”
Police flagged up the shocking living conditions in the report which read: “The kitchen was dirty with grease, and the bedroom where Child E slept was damp, dirty and cluttered with food.”
At the time of the death cannabis was being grown in the loft above one of the children’s bedroom. The report raised concerns that a proper assessment of the child’s living conditions had not been undertaken prior to the youngster’s death. This was put down to the agencies involved using an incorrect address and the mother being unavailable.
The family GP had also failed to carry out developmental checks on the baby. Despite the circumstances of the baby’s death, and the parents’ history of alcohol and drug abuse the youngster’s three siblings were later placed back into their care. The report concluded that nothing significant was missed by agencies that could have prevented the baby’s death.
In 2016, the Telegraph revealed important evidence about the case was never received by the Crown Prosecution Service due to a computer error.
Police said the case would be reviewed but a decision was taken not to prosecute anyone in relation to Child E’s death. The CPS issued a statement this week after the Telegraph asked for an update. It read: “After the publication of the Serious Case Review (SCR), West Midlands Police forwarded a file of evidence to the CPS on April 21, 2016 requesting, for the first time, a charging decision in respect of any offences in connection with the death of Child E.
“Following a very thorough review of the evidence and the gathering of further expert medical evidence, the CPS decided in January 2017 that there was insufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction for any such offences.