A Blackpool man has been convicted of the manslaughter of his two-year-old daughter who died after drinking heroin substitute methadone from a children’s Tom and Jerry cup.
A jury at Preston Crown Court took three hours to unanimously convict Barry Jones, 42, of unlawfully killing Sophie Jones and also child cruelty.
He will be sentenced on December 1 with the child’s mother, Michelle King, who admitted manslaughter before the start of the trial which lasted just over two weeks.
Preston Crown court had heard claims that Barry Jones and his partner Michelle King put drugs first in their lives, at the expense of caring properly for the daughter.
Sophie Jones died after being rushed to hospital from the family home on Jameson Street, Blackpool after collapsing in March.
A recording of the 999 call made from the house was played out in court.
She was pronounced dead at hospital, having choked on her vomit from drinking the heroin substitute.
Around a quarter of a pint of methadone was found in a child’s Tom and Jerry drinking cup when police searched the back yard. A fruit shoot bottle also containing the controlled drug was found in a dustbin.
Jones had denied manslaughter, an alternative charge of causing or allowing the death if a child and also child neglect.
After the guilty verdicts were returned, the court was told he had 93 previous offences on his record, including violence, robbery and supplying heroin.
The prosecution had alleged that the mother, who was on a methadone prescription, had been stockpiling the liquid to sell it onto other users and buy drugs.
Barry Jones, who made the 999 call for an ambulance, claimed in evidence that he had warned Michelle King about the need to keep her methadone safely stored away.
He spoke of being devastated by Sophie’s death and that he went numb after trying to save his daughter when she collapsed and wasn’t breathing. He denied taking part in any clean up operation to hide the methadone.
Detective Inspector Andy Cribbin of the Force Major Investigation Team said: “Sophie’s death was as a direct result of the actions and neglect of her parents, the two people who should have protected her from coming to any harm whatsoever.
“Her death was wholly avoidable and was brought about by their chaotic and reckless use of illegal and prescribed drugs within the family home. In particular, storing methadone in a child’s drinking cup is akin to leaving a loaded firearm in the reach of a child, the outcome was almost inevitable.
“Barry Jones never accepted any responsibility for his role in this tragic event. I would like to thank the jury for their careful consideration of all the evidence in what was a distressing case.
“I would also like to thank members of the local community who came forward as witnesses and enabled us to piece together the actions of both defendants in the weeks and hours leading up to Sophie’s death. Their evidence provided a disturbing insight into King’s and Jones’s drug abuse.
“The thoughts of myself and the investigation team as a whole are with Sophie’s family and we hope the conclusion of the criminal case brings some comfort to them.”
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