A two-week old baby girl died after she was crammed into a single bed with her parents.
An inquest heard how little Alesha Roberts may have suffocated in a tragic accident after both her parents fell asleep with her wedged between them in a single bed.
Alesha was only 16 days old when she died; her mother, Letisha Roberts had fed the baby in bed at about 2am, before snuggling down with her for a cuddle. However, when she awoke approximately two hours later, the child was unresponsive and the emergency services were called.
Alesha was rushed to hospital, but despite the efforts of her parents, the paramedics and the doctors at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Blackpool, Alesha was pronounced dead.
An inquest into Alesha’s death heard how her mother had been given advice on “safe sleeping” from a midwife and also how Alesha’s parents had been drinking and smoking cannabis in the hours before her death.
Alesha and her mother were visting her father at his flat in Blackpool, where Alesha did not have a cot and would sleep in her car seat. Miss Roberts told the inquest: “I had never smoked cannabis before that night. He smoked it from time to time but he would always go outside. I said I wanted to go but he said ‘no stay’. I said ‘what are we going to do’ and he said we’d get a drink from over the road. We had a drink and then had a takeaway.”
Miss Robers insisted she “wasn’t drunk” and in references to her puffings on a cannabis joint, said “I just had a little bit, she was asleep. I did one or two [puffs] and that was it. It was only one or two.”
The inquest heard that medical reports could not confirm for sure that Alesha had died as a result of suffocation and said that Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or the temperature of the room may have played a part.
Giving evidence at the inquest, Detective Chief Inspector Anthony Baxter said: “Letisha had been told about co-sleeping, and on top of that our evidence shows that drink has been taken and that drugs have been taken. There’s an unsafe sleeping environment in a single bed between two people, potential overlaying. The CPS took the decision to charge Letisha and a decision was taken not to charge Ahmed on the basis that although Ahmed had got the baby out of the car seat and handed to Letisha to feed, he fell asleep and wouldn’t know the baby was left in bed.”
Pathologist Dr Gauri Batra of the Manchester Children’s Hospital said: “In my opinion co-sleeping and alcohol consumption, drug use, smoking- not necessarily around the baby but parental smoking even in a well ventilated room, smoking by parents during pregnancy or after, is a risk factor. The room being too warm and co-sleeping in a small space is another risk factor for SID.”
The Assistant Coroner for Blackpool, Mr Derek Baker, returned a narrative verdict, speaking of “unanswered questions”: “What I don’t know is whether it was a natural cause of death and what the effects of sleeping with parents was. The sleeping environment in my opinion put her at greater risk of cot death or overlaying.
“I’m satisfied that Letisha you were anxious to do your best for Alesha and you did co-operate with the midwife. I don’t believe you were fully conscious of the risk factors. I can’t say whether the outcome would have been different if Alesha hadn’t shared the bed. This may have been overlaying, it may not. It may be cot death. All the answers will never become apparent in this case. The sleeping environment may have contributed but the extent of the contribution, if any, is unclear.”