Baby died after co-sleeping with dad in double bed


A baby boy died after his dad took him into his bed.

Father Liam Wootton took two-and-a-half-months-old Harley Jack from his cot and into his double bed after the baby woke in the night crying.

The baby's mum, Stephanie Marsden, was out with friends when the incident occurred in October, 2011.

She phoned Liam to see if he wanted her to bring him home a takeaway meal. Her dad Kenneth answered the phone and took it upstairs. When he went into the bedroom he found Liam asleep and baby Harley unconscious in the bed.

Kenneth called for an ambulance and tried to revive the baby, but he was pronounced dead by medics at the Sunderland Royal Hospital at 2.51am.

Pathologists investigating the cause of his death found small haemorrhages on his eyes and internal organs.

One of the pathologists, Dr Annavarapu, told the hearing at Sunderland Coroner's Court that this could have been because of increased pressure and lack of oxygen from co-sleeping.

"These pressure changes could be related to the fact that at the scene of the death, the baby was found face down on the pillow and was co-sleeping with his father, which is a risk factor, especially when under the influence of alcohol," Dr Annavarapu said.

All toxicology tests looking for drugs, alcohol or carbon monoxide poisoning were negative, and there was no evidence of any injuries to the baby.

There were some signs that Harley was in the very early stages of bronchial pneumonia as bacteria linked with the infection was found in his mouth and throat.

When Liam Wootton was interviewed by the police after Harley's death, he said that on the day before Harley died he had drunk a pint of lager at a pub in Sunderland city centre, and had then gone on to have four cans of lager at home before going to bed at around 10.40pm.

He said he had put Harley in his cot before falling asleep himself.

He told police that he remembered picking Harley up, and then later being woken by Kenneth Marsden, who said Harley had been taken to hospital and he thought he was dead.

Dr Annavarapu gave the cause of death as bronchial pneumonia compounded by accidental suffocation, because of co-sleeping with parent under the influence of alcohol.

The Sunderland Echo reports that assistant deputy coroner Clare Davies recorded a verdict of death by natural causes, contributed to by co-sleeping.

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