Experts have been unable to find out how a two-week-old Doncaster baby died in her parents’ bed.
Little Katy Grace Leeson may have been accidentally suffocated before she was found lifeless by her father in the early hours of March 14. But a Doncaster coroner recorded an open conclusion because no cause of death could be determined by a Home Office pathologist. The inquest heard Katy’s parents had been drinking alcohol at a pub and a relative’s home the previous day but, according to witnesses, were not drunk.
Parenting experts advise against babies sleeping in their parents’ bed and alcohol consumption is seen as increasing the risk factor.
Katy’s mother, Kim Docherty, aged 25, was asleep in bed at their home on Radburn Road, Rossington, when dad Michael Leeson woke her, shaking her to say Katy was not breathing and for her to call an ambulance.
An ambulance controller gave them instructions on what to do but Ms Docherty admitted she was ‘getting stressed’ and could not perform CPR.
PC Timothy Crowson, the first police officer on the scene, said she was ‘crying uncontrollably’ when he entered the bedroom and the baby was lifeless.
Mr Leeson, a chef, said he had bottle fed Katy about 11pm on March 13 and she settled but woke again and would not go back to sleep.
“I got into bed, she was lying on her stomach on my chest and seemed to settle well.
“I woke up later and found her lying in the middle of the bed on her back. I could tell there was a problem.”
Katy was taken to Doncaster Royal Infirmary after police and paramedics tried to revive her but was declared dead an hour later.
Blood samples were taken from both parents which were analysed by a forensic scientist. They found Ms Docherty could have been around one-and-a-half times the legal alcohol limit for driving at the time of Katy’s death, while Mr Leeson had a lower reading. Neither had consumed illegal drugs.
The inquest heard the parents had been drinking with friends at the White Rose pub on Grange Lane in the preceding afternoon and also at the home of Kim’s sister, Samantha Docherty, in the evening.
Samantha said: “Kim was drinking quite a lot and seemed more drunk. Michael seemed fine and stopped drinking.” Pathologist Dr Philip Lumb, who carried out the autopsy, said the cause of death could not be ascertained, but said possible causes were asphyxiation from overlaying or being entangled in a duvet, or from overheating. At two weeks of age Katy would have been too young to alert her parents. Assistant Coroner Mark Beresford told the family: “In view of the lack of factual evidence of the precise cause of death I will record an open conclusion.”