Matthew Neil and Kim Smart-Neil reportedly went on a day-long drinking binge on Christmas in 2014. During the incident, their 1-month-old son, Freddie Neil, was found on the floor stuck between a wall and bed in another child’s room and was pronounced dead on arrival at Blackpool Victoria Hospital.
Both parents were arrested on suspicion of manslaughter and neglect, but no charges were filed, the Blackpool Gazette reports. The Crown Prosecution Service, in collaboration with police investigators, decided there was insufficient evidence to charge Matthew and Smart-Neil in the infant's death.
A case review initiated by the Blackpool Safeguarding Children Board has recently been revealed, and it reported that the couple had consumed "a large quantity of alcohol" prior to the child’s death. The following day, they woke up near their 2-year-old son but could not find the infant. When Freddie was eventually discovered on the floor, no one could tell officials how he ended up there.
Matthew believes he was in an epileptic state at the time; according to him, these episodes cause him to blackout and suffer amnesia upon awakening.
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"I believe I had a fit," he told the Blackpool Gazette. "There’s no way a 4-week-old baby can make it from our room into Alex’s room on his own. […] 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."
Coroner Alan Wilson said the child had bronchitis at the time, which makes it impossible to determine the exact cause of his death. Pathologist Jo McPartland said the death appeared to be caused by sleeping arrangements that were not safe.
An inquest into Freddie's death was held in December 2015, and a neighbor told the inquest that she heard an infant crying around 7:30 a.m. while a woman said, "Stop it, stop it now." At around 9:00 a.m., she then reportedly heard a baby screaming.
However, Matthew said the neighbor must have heard someone else in the neighborhood.
"Again, that’s her word against ours," he told the Blackpool Gazette.
Matthew added that the incident compelled him to drink less, as people avoided him after the arrest.
"I don’t have a single drop of alcohol in the house at all," he said. "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."