Wolverhampton heroin death toddler's parents jailed

Daniel Jones Daniel Jones was found collapsed at a house in Wolverhampton in May 2012

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The parents of a toddler who died from a heroin overdose have been jailed.

Daniel Jones, aged 23 months, collapsed at a house in Penn in Wolverhampton in May 2012. He died later in hospital.

Simon Jones, 30, from Windsor Avenue, Penn, admitted manslaughter, while Emma Bradburn, 34, of the same address, admitted causing or allowing the death.

Jones was jailed for six years and Bradburn for four at Wolverhampton Crown Court.

Sentencing the couple, Mrs Justice Thirlwall said there was no doubt the two, who were both long-term heroin addicts, had loved their boy.

"It is one thing to risk your own health but quite another matter entirely to risk your son's," she told them.

'Gross betrayal of trust'

The court heard that Jones fully accepted he was responsible for his son ingesting a tiny, but lethal, amount of heroin, as he had been using the drug around the time Daniel died.

Following his arrest, shortly after the toddler's death, Jones tested positive for the drug while Bradburn did not, the court heard.

Examination of a sample of Daniel's hair revealed the presence not only of heroin, but also amphetamines, cocaine and cannabis.

Both Jones and Bradburn told the court they never smoked heroin or cannabis in front of their son.

The court heard that Daniel slept in his parents' bed, where police found tin foil stained with a brown residue, empty clingfilm packets and other paraphernalia associated with the transport and use of heroin in the room's bedside tables.

Det Insp John Smith, from West Midlands Police, said Daniel's death was "a gross betrayal of trust" by his parents.

"This was a truly tragic case, where a young boy has had his life so needlessly cut short, having been exposed to illegal and dangerous substances," he added.

Serious case review

The death was initially treated as unexplained but tests later determined the toddler had died from a heroin overdose.

During the police investigation, a small cannabis-growing operation was found in the loft and drug paraphernalia was found in a bedroom, police said.

Mr Smith said: "We don't know exactly how the youngster came to ingest the illegal drug, but we do know that he should never have been exposed to [it] in any case."

The court also heard that just two weeks before his death, social services removed Daniel from a child in need plan as they were satisfied with the care he was receiving at home.

Alan Coe, chair of the Wolverhampton Safeguarding Children Board, said it had commissioned a serious case review from an independent expert to establish if there were any lessons that would "improve the outcomes for other children in similar circumstances".

"In any instance where health, social care or other services knew and were involved in the family where a child dies non-accidentally, we must always find out if there was anything that might have been done to have better protected them," he added.

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