Tragedy as newborn dies after mum fell asleep on her weeks after leaving hospital

A newborn baby died after being accidentally suffocated by her mother when they fell asleep together on the sofa.

Billy-Jo Mary-Jane Stewart and mum Tameka had been discharged from hospital weeks before the tragedy in Elmridge, Skelmersdale.

The new parent got up to feed her little girl at 7am before the tot fell asleep in her arms, reports LancsLive.

But at around midday, she woke to discover her baby ‘pressed up against her’ and lifeless, an inquest into her death heard.

On the evening of November 17 2020, Billy-Jo was taken to hospital where, despite resuscitation attempts, she was pronounced dead.

When her mother was interviewed at the hospital by Detective Inspector Chris Wellard she admitted she had taken cocaine the day before, when she didn’t have her two children with her, and a police investigation was launched.

At an inquest at Preston Coroner’s Court yesterday, DI Wellard explained that although toxicology tests confirmed the presence of cocaine metabolites in her mother’s system, there was insufficient evidence to charge her with an offence because it was impossible to say if she had been unresponsive at the time she was looking after Billy-Jo.

“When [she] noticed Billy-Jo was lifeless and not breathing she was pressed up against mum with her face pressed against mum’s breast,” DI Wellard told the inquest.

“Tameka shouted and [her friends] came down. She took Billy-Jo into the street and screamed ‘help’ and went to a neighbour’s address and an ambulance was called.”

A post-mortem carried out by Home Office pathologist Dr Alison Armour found no signs of injury or natural disease and the medical cause of death was given as overlaying.

The inquest heard that Billy-Jo’s death had been a “tragic accident”.

Returning a conclusion of accidental death, the coroner said: “Billy-Jo was being nursed by her mother, fell asleep and then sadly her mother also fell asleep.

“At some stage it would appear that Billy-Jo’s mouth and nose must have been compromised and there must have been an obstruction preventing Billy-Jo from breathing.

“I can’t see this as being anything other than a very sad accident. Billy-Jo Mary-Jane Stewart died on November 18 at her home having suffered an upper airways obstruction after falling asleep with her mother. My sympathies go out to the family.”