A mum threw house parties days after her baby girl died sleeping in the same bed with her while she was on cocaine.
Keira-Mae Jones was just two-days old when her mother, Aimee Jones, found her "unresponsive" in her bed at Barnsley Hospital, on Saturday, May 16, 2020.
In the days after her death, her mum Aimee Jones was seen throwing as many as nine house parties and drinking with friends by a neighbour. It was during the height of the pandemic.
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Today a coroner said he would refer the case back to the Crown Prosecution Service so that a previous decision not to charge the mother with manslaughter could be 'reassessed'.
The tragic circumstances surrounding Keira-Mae’s death were heard at an inquest today, in which Mrs Jones told the court she believed it ‘safe’ to look after a baby while on cocaine.
She told the court: “I do think you could, yeah (take cocaine). I'm not saying it's right to [but] you can safely do it, yeah."
Keira-Mae was born on Thursday, May 14, and had not been let home because she was to be placed into immediate foster care.
Her mum was allowed contact with her while in hospital and was given a room with a bed next to her cot and close to the nurses’ station.
The inquest at Sheffield's Medico Legal Centre heard how Miss Jones woke up and told horrified nurses she had "accidentally squashed the baby" as the tot lay lifeless in her arms.
Keira-Mae had suffered "catastrophic brain injuries" and after desperate attempts to resuscitate her, she was placed on life support, which was turned off four months later.
The court also heard from Mrs Jones' next door neighbour who recalled a conversation between her and Mrs Jones in the days following Keira-Mae being put on life support.
She said she had approached Mrs Jones and asked her to turn down the "loud music" that was blaring from her house.
Mrs Jones then asked for a chat and told her 'I've suffocated her, I did it’.
The neighbour told the court: "I was absolutely mortified, someone has just told me that they've suffocated their own baby."
She reported this conversation to the police the following morning.
The court heard Mrs Jones and her husband Alex would often throw house parties which had been reported to the police in the days following Keira-Mae's death.
The neighbour said: "I think the actions after Keira's death states everything. These were house parties, Mrs Jones had friends round."
She added how she did not believe the friends were at the house for "moral support" but were instead there "for drinking".
"This was during a pandemic too, so it was illegal. It's just not what you expect", she added.
Mrs Jones was arrested by police under suspicion of “criminal overlay” in the days following, the court heard - an offence relating to when an infant dies while in bed with an adult who is under the influence of alcohol or other substances.
Blood and urine tests taken from Mrs Jones a few hours after Keira-Mae had been found unresponsive revealed she had recently taken cocaine.
Toxicologist Dr Dianna Garside said analysis suggested Mrs Jones had taken cocaine in the days before the test.
When asked by Senior Coroner David Urpeth if she could pinpoint an exact day when Mrs Jones may have taken the drug, Dr Garside said evidence pointed towards a three-day window; between Thursday, May 14, 2020 - the day that Keira-Mae was born - and Saturday, May 16, 2020 - the day Keira-Mae was found unresponsive.
Two midwives who had looked after Mrs Jones and Keira-Mae said on the day Keira-Mae had been found unresponsive, Mrs Jones' seemed "fidgety", "away with the fairies" and had been less friendly towards them than in the previous two days since giving birth.
Dr Garside said it was possible she was experiencing a "crash" after the "initial euphoria" of cocaine use.
However, Mrs Jones denied taking cocaine while in hospital and told Mr Urpeth she had taken the drug the week before - meaning she would have been pregnant at the time.
She told the court she "[didn't] know" what had happened to her little girl other than she had woken from sleep to find her unresponsive in her bed.
Explaining to Mr Urpeth how she and Keira-Mae came to be in the same bed, Mrs Jones - who was presented to the court following a warrant for her arrest for failing to attend the inquest - said: "I used to sit in bed to feed her".
Though she denied being under the influence of cocaine while in hospital with her baby, Mrs Jones told the court she did believe she could safely look after her baby if she had taken some.
A warrant was also issued for the arrest of Keira-Mae's dad Alex Jones, who had also failed to attend court to give evidence.
Mr Urpeth questioned Mrs Jones about whether or not she had been advised by nurses and midwives at Barnsley Hospital not to co-sleep with her newborn baby.
Mrs Jones told the court that she had been given that advice.
Mr Urpeth rejected Mrs Jones' evidence she had not taken cocaine while in hospital with Keira-Mae and told the court that on the balance of probabilities, she had taken the drug on Saturday, May 16, 2020 - the same day that Keira had been found unresponsive.
Concluding the inquest, Mr Urpeth recorded a verdict of unlawful killing and told the court that the "unlawful act of the mother directly led to Keira's death".
He added: "That is someone who could and should have cared for Keira-Mae and it is a tragedy that she didn't."
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