Somehow, two people with extremely poor judgement got together and made a baby…the end result is of course a tragedy.
- Neglectful Matthew Atherton, 23, and Anne Turnbull, 30, binge drank as Liam, four months, suffered seizure
- Pair, of Blackburn, Lancs., left infant alone with door open despite fact he had cold
- Turnbull’s sister told parents of fit – but they carried on party anyway
- Tragically, child was found the next morning, lifeless in his cot
- Couple had been known to children’s services
Evil: Matthew Atherton, 23, and Anne Turnbull, 30, leave Preston Crown Court after being charged with neglect. Their three-month-old son, Liam, died from pneumonia after they held a drunken all-night party
A couple who left their four-month-old baby to die of pneumonia on a winter’s night while they threw a drunken party are facing jail.
Matthew Atherton, 23, girlfriend Anne Turnbull, 30, and three friends sank 60 cans of lager, Jack Daniels whiskey and wine whilst little Liam Atherton was succumbing to the effects of cold and hunger.
The infant had been diagnosed with a cold earlier that day yet had been left in a downstairs room whilst the back door was left open to allow the cigarette smoke from the party to filter outside.
Despite the youngster suffering a seizure, his unconcerned parents ignored pleas by guests to call an ambulance.
He was eventually found lifeless in his moses basket at 11.15am the following morning after Turnbull went to check on him. He was rushed to hospital but was pronounced dead a short time later.
Police who went to the house in Blackburn, Lancs., following the tragedy in January 2011 found a wheelie bin stuffed full of empty lager cans and wine bottles. The kitchen tops were also covered with empty alcohol cans.
Blood tests ordered by the police showed Atherton was three times the drink drive limit at the time Liam was discovered. It emerged the party had gone on until 7am. The couple were known to social services who had been giving them support.
At Preston Crown Court, Atherton and Turnbull, both admitted a charge of child neglect and were warned they could be jailed.
His early arrival meant the boy was taking special medication to encourage his development. On the day of the tragedy he had been seen by the health visitor and she had diagnosed him with a cold.
But despite his vulnerable condition his parents decided to throw a party at their terraced home and invited a handful of friends.
When the party was in full flow Turnbull invited her sister Zoe Heap and her partner to visit.
As they arrived, Miss Heap discovered the front room where Liam was sleeping was cold and became angry after noticing the baby was hungry and in a wet nappy.
Miss Heap changed Liam and fed him and then passed him to her partner for him to settle. But the youngster then suffered a ‘fit or seizure’.
Turnbull and Atherton, who have two other children under the age of two, were told about the seizure – but they refused to call an ambulance despite being encouraged by Miss Heap and her partner.
Atherton attributed the fit down to Liam having a cold and the tot was put back in his moses basket.
Police began investigating after being notified of Liam’s sudden death by a nurse at the Royal Blackburn Hospital.
A post-mortem examination at the time did not reveal any significant injuries but a coroner later ruled Liam had died from pneumonia. His parents were charged with neglect three weeks later.
Atherton initially denied wrongdoing but changed his mind and pleaded guilty on the second day of his trial.
Both he and Turnbull were bailed for the preparation of reports but were told by Judge Christopher Cornwall: ‘All sentencing options remain open.’ Both will be sentenced on June 21.
After the case Detective Sergeant Sarah Hargreaves, of Blackburn police public protection unit, said: ‘The conclusion of this case comes after a protracted and sensitive inquiry. I hope the sentence will reflect the gravity and the seriousness of this offence.’
At the time of the tragedy neighbours said they saw Turnbull shouting and screaming in the street after dialing 999. One said: ‘She had gone to sleep on the couch, with the baby put in his rocker. But when she woke up, he wasn’t breathing.
‘Then there was a lot of commotion. It is devastating news. You just think of your own children at a time like this – I couldn’t live through something like that.’
A spokesman for Blackburn with Darwen Council said: ‘This is a tragic case, the family were known to children’s services and we had previously been supporting them.
‘We are working closely with the police and fully co-operating with the ongoing investigation.’
Culled from dailymail.co.uk