Parents Let Sick Baby Die Of Pneumonia As They Hosted All-Night Party

14/08/2014 16:49 | Updated 22 May 2015

Parents let sick baby die of pneumonia as they hosted all-night party

A couple who let their sick baby die in the cold as they hosted a drunken all-night house party are facing jail.

Four-month-old Liam Atherton became ill with pneumonia while Matthew Atherton, 23, girlfriend Anne Turnbull, 30, and three pals drank 60 cans of lager, Jack Daniel's whisky and wine, a court was told.

The baby, who had a cold, had been put near an outside door left open during a chilly night to let out cigarette smoke from the boozy January party.

Preston Crown Court heard that Liam had been born prematurely in September 2010 and had been prescribed special medication to encourage his development.

On the day of the tragedy a health visitor diagnosed him with a cold but the party went ahead.

Turnbull invited her sister Zoe Heap, who became angry after finding Liam hungry and in a wet nappy, the court heard.

She changed and fed the child but he then had a fit or seizure. Turnbull and Atherton were told but refused to call an ambulance.

Liam was found lifeless in his Moses basket by Turnbull after the party ended at 7am. He was then taken to Royal Blackburn Hospital but medics could not revive him and he was pronounced dead soon after.

Police began investigating after being notified of Liam's sudden death by a nurse.

Officers who went to the house in Blackburn, Lancashire, following the tragedy in January 2011 found a wheelie bin stuffed full of empty lager cans and wine bottles.

The kitchen surfaces were also covered with empty alcohol cans. Atherton was three times the drink-drive limit at the time Liam was found.

The couple were known to social services and had been receiving support.

A coroner later ruled Liam had died from pneumonia. His parents were charged with neglect three weeks later.

Atherton denied the charge but changed his plea this week. Atherton and Turnbull will be sentenced next month.

Atherton and Turnbull, who have two other children under two, were told by Judge Christopher Cornwall after admitting child neglect: "All sentencing options remain open."

Det Sgt Sarah Hargreaves said after the hearing: "The conclusion of this case comes after a protracted and sensitive inquiry.

"I hope the sentence will reflect the gravity and the seriousness of this offence."


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