A boy who lived in “overcrowded circumstances” during the first COVID lockdown has died after being put to sleep in a warehouse, a family court judge has concluded.
Judge Steven Parker ruled that the baby, about two months old at the time of death, had been left “unsupervised” in his crib on an unsafe cardboard box in the outhouse.
The judge said the crib “tilts its head” out of the box, causing the baby’s face to “press against the wall of the crib with its head in an unnatural and unusual position”.
The judge said the baby died after his “breathing or ventilation” was “injured”.
The baby’s parents, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, denied the baby “was ever put in a barn”. They announced that they found the lifeless child in a crib in their bedroom in June 2020.
The baby’s parents said his death was a tragic case of sudden, unexplained death.
But the judge, ruling in a private family court in Liverpool, said the baby’s parents had “colluded to provide a false account” of the circumstances.
He also ruled that the baby’s parents “did not adequately supervise” the baby.
The hearing was not related to a criminal investigation. Instead, the council’s social services bosses asked the judge to make the findings of the boy’s death.
They have responsibilities to other children in the family and want the findings of the child’s death to help them make care decisions.
Therefore, the name of the family, where they live or the local government involved cannot be reported.
In his ruling, Judge Parker said: “At the time of (his) death, the relationship of the mother and father was strained by living… on behalf of.
“These problems lead to poor communication and arguments between the mother and father, and to the point where the parents cannot cope well and need to take a leave of care (baby).
“Contrary to safe sleep guidelines,” he says, babies are sometimes placed on the floor in a room – alone away from parents – to “cry and soothe themselves”.
The judge said the baby’s father or mother had placed the baby in a crib and was “in the shed without supervision” before the baby died.
“Hatily or recklessly, the crib was placed by the mother and/or father on an unsuitable and unsafe cardboard box in the warehouse,” the judge said.
“The crib head was flipped off the top surface of the box causing (baby) to move towards his left/shoulder and his face was pressed against the side of the crib with the head in an unnatural and unusual position.
“This affected his breathing or ventilation and resulted in his death from hypoxia and hypercapnia.”
Judge Parker said the baby’s parents, who live in a bungalow, “didn’t feel that they had any proper support” and added: “They said there was no face-to-face visit from the health visitor or midwife. Everything happened over the phone.”
The judge said police were investigating the boy’s death and said “no offense or neglect has been identified”.
Officers arrived at the bungalow within half an hour after the boy was taken to hospital and found his crib “in the garden shed”.
Judge Parker did not name the police force involved.
He said “no signs of injury” were found during the autopsy.