Decision not to charge baby's parents slammed

A leading children's charity has criticised the decision not to prosecute the parents of Freddie Neil after they allegedly spent the hours before his death drinking with pals.

Saturday, 9th April 2016, 8:00 am
Little Freddie Neil, who died aged just four weeks old

The four-week-old was found wedged between a bed and a wall in his two-year-old brother’s room, but neither dad Matthew Neil or mum Kim Smart-Neil could tell investigators how he got there after a 24-hour binge, according to a new report.

The pair were arrested on suspicion of manslaughter and neglect but were released without charge.

A spokeswoman for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said a charge of neglect was considered but dropped due to a lack of evidence.

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Little Freddie Neil's father Matthew Neil

The shocking details surrounding Freddie’s death, at the family’s home in Rydal Avenue, central Blackpool, on Boxing Day 2014, were revealed following a serious case review by the Blackpool Safeguarding Children Board and published in Wednesday’s Gazette.

Charity Kidscape has said the CPS’s decision sends the wrong message to parents.

Chief executive Claude Knight said: “This is a very sad and most distressing case involving the avoidable tragic death of helpless newborn baby.

“The lack of evidence verdict does not act as a deterrent.”

Little Freddie Neil's father Matthew Neil

The report told how Freddie’s parents spent Christmas Day 2014 drinking in a pub and at home with friends.

The pair were woken up by their two-year-old son Alex at noon the next day but his DJ dad, who had turned down help for his alcoholism weeks earlier, couldn’t find little Freddie, it said.

Mr Neil, who works in resort pubs and bars under the pseudonym Mat Black, told The Gazette he disputed several of the report’s findings, and that he believes he moved Freddie from a Moses basket while in an epilepsy-triggered fugue state, which he said sees him blackout and ‘wake up’ elsewhere suffering from amnesia.

He denied being drunk while looking after Freddie although he was twice the legal drink drive limit when he was arrested by police more than six hours after he went to bed.

Freddie’s inquest, which was held at Blackpool town hall, saw coroner Alan Wilson record an open-ended verdict .

The court was told Freddie had bronchitis when he died and it was impossible to 
say what exactly caused his death.

But pathologist Dr Jo McPartland said she believed he died largely as a result of unsafe sleeping arrangements.

The report concluded authorities could not have done anything to prevent of predict Freddie’s death.

Meanwhile, Ms Smart-Neil was told a national news website that she had received counselling since her son’s death and hoped the storm of public outrage would “wash over”

She is reported as saying: “I’ve had a lot of counselling since it happened. I just have to accept it and it will wash over.”

Speaking at the Walnut Tree pub in Blisworth, near Northampton, where she currently works as a barmaid said: “There’s a lot of different sides to the story and the people who know me know that.

“I just have to deal with the people who come into the bar where I work and read all the papers.

“But the people who matter don’t care and the people who care about it don’t matter.”

Ms Smart-Neil also denied that either she or her ex-partner were drunk on the night of the tragedy.

She said: “My ex-partner has a drink problem but he’s a functioning alcoholic and you can’t tell he’s drunk. On that evening I just thought he’d gone to sleep.

‘It’s been made out that we were totally drunk but we weren’t.

“There was alcohol there but we had friends round.”