Mother jailed for taking cocaine and drinking before her baby was found dead in her bed is freed from prison
PUBLISHED: 15:27 25 September 2018 | UPDATED: 07:01 26 September 2018
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A Sprowston mother, who was jailed after she drunk alcohol and took cocaine before waking to find her baby dead in her bed, has been freed from prison by appeal judges.
Jessica Lindsay, 30, and her partner Shane Riley, 37, had gone to bed after drinking with friends last February, and could not remember taking their seven-week-old son Lyle to bed with them.
But when they woke the next day at their Avocet Rise home they found Lyle had died. Tests showed the couple had been drinking and had taken cocaine.
Both parents pleaded guilty to child neglect and were jailed for 16 months at Norwich Crown Court in July.
But judges at the Court of Appeal decided on Tuesday that Lindsay’s conduct was not as bad as Riley’s, and reduced and suspended her sentence.
Lord Justice Colman Treacy said that, although both had taken cocaine and drunk alcohol, Riley had consumed considerably more.
The child was due to stay at a friend’s house and it was Riley’s decision - after Lindsay went to bed - to change the plan, he said.
“We think there is force in the argument that there was some distinction to be made in the relative culpability of the parties,” he said.
“It is clear from the evidence that Lindsay was not a party to the decision to keep the baby in the home overnight, nor had she taken the child to bed. She appears to have been unaware that the child was in bed with her.
“Her culpability was based on the fact that she had left the baby in the charge of the co-accused, who was not in a fit state to look after the child.
“We find that the culpability of this offender was less than that of her co-accused and that, on that basis, a distinction should have been between them.
“This was a mature woman who does not present a risk to the public, nor in the view of those who have examined her does she pose a risk to her own children.
“She is deeply remorseful, has learned from bitter experience, and her rehabilitation is in prospect.”
The sentence was reduced to 12 months, suspended for two years, with Lindsay due to be released today.
Norwich Crown Court heard in July that Riley was honest with medical staff, saying he found Lyle in their bed under the duvet instead of in his Moses basket.