Baby inquest due to resume

Police search the grounds of the vicarage in 2014
Police search the grounds of the vicarage in 2014

An inquest into the death of newborn baby Jonathan Percival, who died minutes after being born at the vicarage in Freckleton, is expected to resume on Monday.

It was halted last October when coroner Alan Wilson referred the case to prosecutors in what he described as a ‘rare’ move.

A doctor had told the hearing the child could have survived with resuscitation after being delivered with the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck on Tuesday, November 25, 2014.

The baby’s mother, Ruth Percival, and her father James, the former vicar at Holy Trinity CE Church, were arrested on suspicion of murder and conspiracy to conceal the birth of a child.

They were later quizzed on suspicion of child neglect, but were never charged.

Following a review, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said there remained little prospect of a criminal conviction and said ‘the inquest can now be continued’.

Scheduled to start at 11.30am, it is due to run for two days and will hear evidence surrounding the last moments of little Jonathan’s short life. It will look to conclude exactly how and why he died.

Before being stopped last year, the inquest heard Jonathan was born in a downstairs bathroom at some point between 3.30pm and 4pm.

But he was not seen by a medical professional until around 5.35pm when Mr Percival let paramedics into the family home in Sunnyside Close, the court was told.

During that time gap, Jonathan was left alone, wrapped in a towel on a sofa, as the pair visited their GP, it also heard.

Consultant neonatologist Dr Ruth Gottstein said statistical data showed that, when babies were born with the cord around their neck, there was an 80 per cent survival rate with resuscitation.

Ms Percival and her father were due to give evidence, but Mr Wilson told them it would not be ‘appropriate’ following Dr Gottstein’s evidence.

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