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Open verdict in death of six-month-old baby in St Helens
6:00pm Wednesday 14th May 2014 in News
A CORONER has recorded an open verdict into the death of a six-month-old baby who passed away in his mother’s bed as she and her partner slept under the influence of drugs.
Kevin Stubbington, a child born with a number of medical issues, including a clubbed foot, was discovered lifeless at an address on Elizabeth Road, Haydock last year.
At the inquest, Coroner Christopher Sumner said the baby’s death raised questions about whether “accidental overlay” during co sleeping - particularly concerning the use of illicit drugs – had been a factor.
A pipe, used for smoking crack cocaine, was found in the bedroom and there were traces of drugs in the blood of both Miss Stubbington and her partner, Stephen Curry.
However, there was insufficient evidence to establish Kevin’s cause of death, prompting Mr Sumner’s decision to reach an open verdict.
News of the death follows warnings last year by regional health chiefs about the dangers of parents co sleeping with their babies, particularly after taking drugs or alcohol.
A campaign is currently running in St Helens to highlight the risks.
The inquest heard how Kevin was being cared for by friends at another address on Friday, June 14.
However, he became unsettled so his mother, Lynsey Stubbington, took him home and placed him in his cot.
When Kevin still did not settle, he was placed on the bed between her and Mr Curry.
Miss Stubbington placed him over her and she went asleep. At noon she woke to find him lying in the middle of the bed lifeless.
An ambulance was called and he was taken to hospital but died.
Police investigating the circumstances took blood samples from parents and the home was searched. Ashtrays and a crack pipe were found in the bedroom.
Results showed illicit drugs in their system, including cocaine, morphine and other prescription drugs, and Mr Sumner said they would have been under the influence at the time.
However he added that it could not be determined how much they were affected.
A post mortem showed that there was no evidence of violence and blood tests were even carried out on the baby for traces of alcohol and drugs.
Recording an open verdict, Mr Sumner said that the baby’s cause of death was “unascertained” meaning it could not be found out for certain how he died.
The Star has learned that baby Kevin’s death led to a serious case review by St Helens Safeguarding Children Board, as Miss Stubbington had a history of drug abuse, in particular cannabis, and was being visited by social services.
The findings of the review, whichwas separate to the inquest and published in January, stated: “It is the view of the review panel in this case that the tragic death of child W was neither predictable nor preventable.”