The parents of four-week-old baby who were so drunk after a 24-hour Christmas binge that they forgot where they left him will not be prosecuted over his death.
Freddy Neil was found lying on the floor wedged between a wall and the bed in his brother's room on Boxing Day 2014. He was pronounced dead on arrival at hospital. The couple were arrested and charged with neglect and manslaughter, but the Crown Prosecution Service dropped the charges after concluding that there was not enough evidence for a conviction.
Details of the baby's last night have emerged only after a serious case review. It revealed that his parents, Matthew Neil and Kim Smart-Neil, spent the previous 24 hours drinking “a large wuantity of alcohol“ in a pub and later at their home in Blackpool with friends.
Mrs Smart-Neil, 32, last remembered seeing Freddie at about 5am on Boxing Day when she attended him before going to bed, leaving him in the care of her husband, a DJ with a drink problem. He stayed up with the baby until about 6am, when their friends left.
Mr Neil, 34, who was “extremely tired and intoxicated“, remembered taking Freddie to bed at that time but could not say how the baby came to be in the room of their other son. Mr Neil was woken at about noon by the sound of the elder boy crying at the stair gate. He had no nappy on and there was excrement on the floor.
Mr Neil, who had turned down help for his acoholism weeks earlier, changed the elder boy's nappy before noticing that Freddie was missing from his basket. After searching the house, he found Freddie unresponsive and partially wrapped in blankets on the floor between a wall and bed in his brother's room but neither of his parents could say how he had got there.
Mr Neil tried to resusciate Freddie but he was pronounced dead after being taken to Blackpool Victoria Hospital.
Alan Wilson, the coroner who recorded an open verdict in an inquest into Freddie's death, heard that he had bronchitis and that it was impossible to say what exactly caused his death.
A pathologist said that she believed that his death was caused largely by unsafe sleeping arrangements.
Mr Neil denied being drunk and said that he remembered putting Freddie to bed in his moses basket but admitted that he did not know how he ended up in a different room.
Speaking after the report was published he said: “It was Christmas and we both had more than we should've, but neither of us was inebriated. I believe I had a fit. Onpe of us had to have moved him but when I have a fit I can't remeber half an hour before or after. I can't remeber taking him in there so that's the most viable explanation. It's the most sensible one.“
Mr Neil said that he may have been in the middle of changing his sons' nappies when he backed out.
The report by the Blackpool safeguarding children board said that there was nothing the authorities involved with Freddie's family could have done to prevent or predict his death. The couple have since separated.
The review made several recommendations, including a campaign to warn of the dangers of drinking alcohol while looking after children, improving assessments to identify families' needs, working with new fathers to offer advice and support and introducing a compulsory safe sleep assessment to be carried out by health professionals.
The NSPCC said: “Children whose parents have alcohol problems can often be at most risk of harm, as this tragic case starkly illustrates. It's crucial for these parents to seek help and support to develop healthy and secure relationships with their children.“
Fazit: Kinder von Trinkern leben riskant.