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A mother who took cocaine in hospital after giving birth and then squashed her  newborn baby to death as she slept next to her in the hospital bed could face a manslaughter charge, an inquest heard today.

Keira-Mae Jones was born 5lb 5oz in the early hours of May 14, 2020 at Barnsley Hospital after being induced, and was set to be taken into immediate foster care, Sheffield Coroners Court was told yesterday. 

Her mother Aimee Jones, 32, had been taking opioid-based painkillers while expecting Keira-Mae, so the child had to be kept in the hospital for up to five days to watch if she was suffering from withdrawal symptoms. 

On May 16, just two days after being born, the child suffered catastrophic brain damage and was found face down on her mother’s bed in the hospital’s neonatal ward. Following desperate attempts to resuscitate Keira-Mae, she was placed on life support – but this was switched off four months later. The inquest was told Jones went on to hold up to nine house parties and drinking with friends in the days following the child’s death – and during the height of the pandemic.

Blood and urine tests taken from Aimee Jones a few hours after the child was found unresponsive revealed she had taken cocaine recently, the inquest heard.

When asked to pinpoint an exact day when the mother might have taken the drug, toxicologist Dr Dianna Garside said evidence suggested a three-day window between May 14 – the day Keira-Mae was born – and May 16 – the day she was found unresponsive, Yorkshire Live reports.

Aimee Jones, from Barnsley, South Yorkshire, was arrested on suspicion of ‘criminal overlay’ for taking the little girl to bed while under the influence of substances at the time. 

She had denied she was on drugs hours before her daughter died, but said someone on cocaine could care for a baby because it ‘makes you more alert’. 

Keira-Mae’s father and Aimee’s husband Alex Jones, 38, also from Barnsley, was arrested on suspicion of perverting the course of justice, but the pair were both later released without any further action.  

A neighbour claimed she saw Aimee throwing as many as nine house parties and drinking with friends in the days following the child’s death – and during the height of the pandemic. 

Senior coroner David Urpeth ruled yesterday that the little girl had died due to ‘the unlawful act of the mother’, adding he was ‘surprised’ charges hadn’t been brought against her and he would appeal to the CPS to ‘re-assess’ their decision.

Aimee Jones, from Barnsley, South Yorkshire, was arrested on suspicion of 'criminal overlay' for taking the little girl to bed while under the influence of substances at the time. She had denied she was on drugs hours before her daughter died, but said someone on cocaine could care for a baby as it 'makes you more alert'

Aimee Jones, from Barnsley, South Yorkshire, was arrested on suspicion of 'criminal overlay' for taking the little girl to bed while under the influence of substances at the time. She had denied she was on drugs hours before her daughter died, but said someone on cocaine could care for a baby as it 'makes you more alert'

Aimee Jones, from Barnsley, South Yorkshire, was arrested on suspicion of ‘criminal overlay’ for taking the little girl to bed while under the influence of substances at the time. She had denied she was on drugs hours before her daughter died, but said someone on cocaine could care for a baby as it ‘makes you more alert’

Mr Urpeth said: ‘I find the death of Keira-Mae Jones was due to the unlawful act of the mother.

‘I am satisfied that the finding of cause of death in this case on the balance of probability is unlawful killing.

‘I am surprised the CPS did not authorise charges in this tragic case. I would ask this case be referred back to the CPS to reassess their decision.’

Keira-Mae had been set to be subject to an interim care order, where a child is removed from their parents’ care and fostered. 

The inquest heard from the mother’s next door neighbour, who said that she approached Aimee in the days after Keira-Mae was put on life support. 

The neighbour told the court she was ‘mortified’ when Aimee told her ‘I’ve suffocated her, I did it’.

The court was told that Aimee and Alex would often throw house parties, which were reported to police in the days following Keira-Mae’s death.

The neighbour said: ‘I think the actions after Keira’s death states everything. These were house parties, Mrs Jones had friends round.’

She added: ‘This was during a pandemic too, so it was illegal. It’s just not what you expect.’ 

During the inquest, Jones was asked why blood samples taken from her less than two hours after the incident returned evidence of cocaine use.

This followed testimony from forensic toxicologist Dr Diane Garside that confirmed the drugs were most likely used on the day of the incident.

Mr Urpeth specifically asked Jones if she’d taken cocaine and if her partner had provided her with urine to avoid a positive drugs test, to which she replied ‘no’.

But when he asked her if someone could look after a child while on cocaine, Jones said: ‘Yes. Cocaine makes you more alert.’

She later added: ‘I’m not saying it’s right, [but] yes, you can.’

A senior midwife who cared for Aimee Jones, Joanne Posket, told the court Aimee seemed positive and talkative on the day after Keira-Mae’s birth.

However, she said she was negative and irritable on the day of the incident after arguing with her partner about her 16 dogs potentially being taken away from her.

Keira-Mae Jones was born 5lb 5oz in the early hours of May 14, 2020 at Barnsley Hospital after being induced, but was set to be subject to an interim care order, where a child is removed from their parents' care and fostered, Sheffield Coroners Court was told yesterday

Keira-Mae Jones was born 5lb 5oz in the early hours of May 14, 2020 at Barnsley Hospital after being induced, but was set to be subject to an interim care order, where a child is removed from their parents' care and fostered, Sheffield Coroners Court was told yesterday

Keira-Mae Jones was born 5lb 5oz in the early hours of May 14, 2020 at Barnsley Hospital after being induced, but was set to be subject to an interim care order, where a child is removed from their parents’ care and fostered, Sheffield Coroners Court was told yesterday

This behaviour change was described as ‘erratic’ in several witness statements from staff on the ward.

In his finding, Mr Urpeth said he believed this mood swing was caused by substance abuse, but Jones denied this. 

At around 6pm on May 16, 2020, Aimee claims she took Keira-Mae to bed to feed her.

She said her ‘next memory’ was waking up at 8pm, where she found Keira-Mae face down on the bed.

Medics rushed to save Keira-Mae’s life and were initially able to resuscitate her.

Meanwhile, Aimee Jones reportedly gathered her belongings in a carrier bag, wrote a note apologising to Keira-Mae that she was ‘better off without me’.

She then met up with Alex in the car park of the hospital, who convinced her to go back inside.

By this time, Keira-Mae was being prepared for transfer to the another ward, where she would spend the rest of her short life on life support with ‘catastrophic’ brain damage.

A blood sample taken from Aimee less than two hours after the incident showed by-products of cocaine use. A urine sample was also taken.

South Yorkshire Police DS Julie Thorpe said the decision to arrest Aimee and Alex Jones came eight hours after the incident when officers reviewed bodycam footage of her demeanour.

DS Thorpe said: ‘My immediate thought when I saw the footage was this female is clearly under the influence of substances and we need to locate her and arrest her.’

Pictured: Police in Athersley South, Barnsley, South Yorkshire, on 16 September 2020 in relation to the death of baby Keira-Mae Jones

Pictured: Police in Athersley South, Barnsley, South Yorkshire, on 16 September 2020 in relation to the death of baby Keira-Mae Jones

Pictured: Police in Athersley South, Barnsley, South Yorkshire, on 16 September 2020 in relation to the death of baby Keira-Mae Jones

Alex was also arrested on suspicion of perverting the course of justice on May 16, 2020, and during initial police enquiries, a urine sample pot from the hospital was found in his car.

The coroner asked DS Thorpe why Alex had claimed to have the urine pot.

DS Thorpe replied: ‘He claimed he wanted it because he wanted to take it for screening at a sexual health clinic.’

The coroner added: ‘What did you think of that as an explanation?’

DS Thorpe said: ‘Nonsense.’

In subsequent police interviews, Aimee denied using cocaine in hospital. She believed she had fallen asleep and squashed her baby and she hadn’t taken any drugs.

The couple were bailed on May 20, 2020, and outside of further interviews, no action was taken.

In his ruling, Mr Urpeth said: ‘It’s the finding of the experienced officer Thorpe that the mother was ‘obviously intoxicated’.

‘I find as a fact there were material, dramatic changes in her behaviour on May 16 and these indicate intoxication.

‘Therefore, taking both of these into account, I find on balance of probability the most likely time the cocaine was taken was in hospital on May 16.

‘I find on balance of probability that Aimee was not fit to care for a baby due to her drug intoxication.

‘The unlawful act of the mother directly led to Keira’s death.

‘That is someone who could and should have provided protection and care for Keira-Mae. It is a tragedy that she didn’t.

‘Therefore I have to reach a conclusion and I am satisfied on balance of probability the appropriate conclusion to record in this case is unlawful killing.’

Aimee, who was present to give evidence, left before the ruling was complete.

Source: Daily Mail UK

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