The parents of a four-week-old baby who died after being found wedged between his two-year-old brother’s bed and a wall have said they have no idea how he got there. The newborn’s parents have admitted to being so drunk after a 24-hour drinking binge that they can not remember what happened to their baby or how he died on Boxing Day 2014.
The parents, Matthew Neil, 34 and Kim Smart-Neil, 32 were arrested and charged with neglect and manslaughter but have now been told they will not be prosecuted over their baby’s death.
Matthew Neil, a DJ in the British town of Blackpool and his former partner, Kim Smart-Neil were so drunk on the Christmas night that their son died that they have no recollection of just what happened.
The couple had an all day Christmas drinking session with friends at a pub and continued on into the night at their home.
Their two-year-old son was there, along with Freddie, their one-month-old baby.
Freddie was found unresponsive. Image via IStock.
According to the coronial report Kim Smart-Neil last remembered attending to Alex, 2, at 4am and then feeding Freddie at around 5am.
Her husband stayed up with the baby and friends until around 6am when friends left their home.
An inquest heard that Mr Neil who was "extremely tired and intoxicated", remembered taking Freddie to bed but then could not say how the newborn came to be in their other son Alex's room.
Around noon the following day - Boxing Day - Mr Neil was woken. His two-year-old Alex was crying at the stair gate his nappy off and there was excrement on the floor.
The hung-over father got out of bed and changed Alex's nappy before noticing that their baby was not in his basket.
He searched the house and finally found his newborn partially wrapped in blankets wedged on the floor between a wall and bed in Alex's room.
Mr Neil, who had turned down help for his alcoholism weeks earlier, tried CPR but the little baby was unresponsive.
He was rushed to hospital but was pronounced dead.
An inquest heard that Mr Neil, 34, was "extremely tired and intoxicated"Image via Facebook.
When questioned by police neither parent could say how Freddie got between their two-year-old’s bed and a wall.
Coroner Alan Wilson, who recorded an open verdict, heard that Freddie had bronchitis and it was impossible to say what exactly caused his death.
A pathologist said she believed his death was caused largely by "unsafe sleeping arrangements" reports The Blackpool Gazette.
Mr Neil denied being drunk and said he remembered putting Freddie to bed in his Moses basket, but admitted he did not know how he ended up in a different room.
Mr Neil was found by police to be twice the legal drink drive limit when he was tested hours later. Both he and Mrs Smart-Neil were arrested on suspicion of neglect and manslaughter but were released without charge after prosecutors said there was a lack of evidence to go ahead with the charges.
Speaking after the report findings yesterday 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. There's no way a four-week-old baby can make it from our room into Alex's room on his own. It's a sheer impossibility.
"One of us had to have moved him but when I have a fit I can't remember half an hour before or after. I can't remember taking him in there, so that's the most viable explanation. It's the most sensible one."
The father and DJ has told The Gazette that he disputes the findings saying he believes he moved Freddie from his Moses basket while in “an epilepsy-triggered fugue state”, which he said sees him blackout and “wake up” elsewhere suffering from amnesia.
“Only a couple of months ago I was at home on my own and I had a fit,” he said.
“I woke up at the end of North Pier. I had left my house and walked all the way down the Prom.
“I do think my epilepsy was a massive factor in that horrible morning. It’s hypothetical because I can’t prove it.”
Mr Neil told The Gazette said he believes he may have been halfway through changing his sons’ nappies when he blacked out.
“The way I found Alex with his nappy off – he couldn’t undress himself – makes me think I was half-way through changing him when I had a fit and then blacked out, went into the next room and got into bed,” he said.
At the inquest a neighbor said she heard a child crying at around 7.30am before a female voice shouted, "Stop it, stop it now".
Shortly before 9am, the neighbour said she heard a baby "crying and screaming" in a distressed state, the inquest was told.
But Mr Neil says it must have been his “colourful” neighbours.
“Again, that’s her word against ours. I wish I had CCTV in the house.”
The report also found there was nothing authorities involved with Freddie’s family could have done to prevent or predict his death.
It found that Mr Neil was an ‘admitted alcoholic’ who told hospital staff he was drinking ‘seven plus pints per day’. It found that during Freddie’s short life alcohol was a feature but said there was no evidence it posed a problem until that night, with his parents providing a ‘relatively safe environment’.
The report found that during Freddie’s short life alcohol was a feature. Image of Mr Neil via Facebook
Mr Neil now says he has stopped drinking at home and only drinks while out with friends - he says that he now thinks people caring for children should not be drunk.
“I would quite happily stand up and say to people that, if you are in charge of children, I do think alcohol should not be drunk.”
The report by Blackpool Safeguarding Children Board suggested a campaign to warn others of the dangers of drinking alcohol while looking after children, as well as improving assessments to identify families’ needs, working with expectant and new fathers to offer advice and support, and introducing a compulsory safe sleep assessment to be carried out by health professionals.
For help: Lifeline 13 11 14. Kid's Helpline: 1800 55 1800. Men's helpline: 1300 78 99 78