Two heroin-addicted parents have been sentenced to 16 years in prison after their 2-year-old daughter drank methadone stored in her Tom and Jerry sippy cup and died.
Michelle King, 29, and Barry Jones, 42, were considered daily Class A users. They lived entirely on benefits and sold their prescribed methadone to fellow users, along with heroin and cocaine.
Despite having a 2-year-old daughter roaming around the house, King and Jones continued their drug-peddling ways, using their daughter Sophie’s toys and bottles to store drugs.
On March 4, an ambulance was called to the couple's home in Blackpool, Lancs; Sophie had collapsed and stopped breathing. Cops were able to find a Tom and Jerry sippy cup hidden in the backyard. An incriminating text message sent from King to Jones warning him about the methadone increased suspicion.
Police also found traces of cocaine on three of Sophie’s dummies and more methadone in her Fruit Shoot bottles. The couple was also seen filling up a wheelie bin with diapers and drug paraphernalia.
The judge was particularly disturbed by the parents’ negligence as Preston Crown Court learned that Sophie had traces of four separate drugs in her hair.
“This was a household where both of you put your drug habits first and your child’s health and safety second,” said Mrs. Justice Sur Carr.
“I accept that you both loved your children, but you loved your drugs more,” Carr added. “Both of you were habitually taking heroin and crack cocaine at home.
"You dispensed your methadone from such children’s beakers or fruit shoot bottles, despite the fact that you were advised repeatedly of the dangers of methadone and the need to keep it away from children.
“Even as the doctors were working on Sophie at the hospital, you, Michelle King, were texting Barry from the hospital about hiding but not topping out the methadone, which you knew was in the Tom and Jerry beaker.
“The risk of methadone ingestion was the risk of death,” Carr continued. “You allowed your child to live, sleep and play in that environment. She had only her parents to protect her. There was every chance of a beaker containing methadone falling into the wrong hands – Sophie’s hands.”
Simon Medland QC prosecuting also told the court: “The house was dirty and disorganised with drug smoking in the house. On one occasion, Barry Jones was smoking heroin in the living room whilst the girl was in the room at the same time.
“She was entirely dependent on both parents for her health, safety and well-being, but for months she had been subjected to drugs in the shape of cocaine and heroin and methadone both in their original form and metabolised form.”
Jones, who has a 93-offence criminal record, was convicted of manslaughter and child cruelty and will be serving eight years. King, who has a 12-offence record, admitted the charges.