Thu. Jul 25th, 2024
alert-–-couple-whose-‘exceptionally-thin’-three-month-old-baby-died-after-his-‘neglectful’-parents-left-their-‘dirty’-son-to-starve,-with-class-c-drug-found-in-his-milk-bottle,-are-jailed-for-four-yearsAlert – Couple whose ‘exceptionally thin’ three-month-old baby died after his ‘neglectful’ parents left their ‘dirty’ son to starve, with class C drug found in his milk bottle, are jailed for four years

A Scottish couple who neglected their baby in the months before his tragic death have been jailed for two years each.

Stephen Angell, 45, and Laura Stevenson, 46, subjected Stephen Angell Jnr to harrowing mistreatment before he passed away at just three months old.

A probe revealed the pair had caused unnecessary suffering and exposed him to the risk of ingesting drugs as the baby became ‘exceptionally thin’.

A milk bottle found in their home was tested and a trace of diazepam – a class C drug – was discovered.

Medics ruled his death as ‘undetermined’ but social work records revealed concerns had been raised about his care while he was alive.

Angell and Stevenson, of East Kilbride, Lanarkshire, denied any wrongdoing and went on trial at Hamilton Sheriff Court where a jury convicted them of wilful neglect between August and November 2018.

Sheriff Colin Dunipace blasted the couple for showing no remorse for the treatment of their child and jailed them for two years each and both Angell and Stevenson will be under supervision for a further nine months following their release from custody.

The court heard a drunk Stevenson had left her son with a woman who was disabled and ‘morbidly obese’ and had gone to bed.

He was later discovered soaked in urine in the woman’s arms by her horrified daughter.

Dr Adrienne Sullivan told the trial she examined Stephen in October 2018 amid concerns over weight gain.

She said his hands, feet and armpits were dirty, he had long nails and a smell of body odour was coming from him which was ‘unusual’.

She had concerns about nutrition after he gained 100g in three days under medical supervision but was struggling to gain weight at home.

In evidence, Dr Sullivan said: ‘There has been a failure to provide Stephen with adequate nutrition to provide the adequate gain that you would expect from a child who is being bottle fed.

‘If you don’t get enough to eat then you don’t have enough building blocks to grow, you don’t have the building blocks for your brain to develop.

‘You can smile and watch but would not have the protein to build up muscle.

‘I recommended the health visitor monitor him very closely.’

The trial heard a report from health visitor Ann-Marie Hamilton had raised concerns over Stephen’s welfare.

She wrote: ‘Health visitor continues to have concern that parents are not meeting Stephen Jnr’s nutritional needs.

‘He still appears hungry following a feed but parents don’t appear responsive to this.’

Professor Charlotte Wright told the court Stephen was ‘exceptionally thin’ when she examined him.

During one exchange, the parents were advised to increase the amount of baby formula they were feeding him but callous Angell replied: ‘If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.’

Depute fiscal John Coogan told jurors: ‘The presence of diazepam inside the bottle presents an utterly compelling picture that baby Stephen was exposed to the risk of ingesting drugs and that is against a background of both accused being told of the importance of a sterile bottle.

‘You can be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the crimes were committed and that they were committed by both accused.’

The court heard the couple had had another child together following the death of Stephen jnr which was taken into care due to social work concerns regarding their ‘chaotic’ lifestyle and ability to properly look after the baby.

Defence lawyers claimed Angell and Stevenson had been let down by health care professionals and were being scapegoated.

George Gebbie, defending Angell, said: ‘There is no suggestion the child was not being taken to see the healthcare professionals as and when he was asked and there was clear engagement.’

Stephen Hughes, defending Stevenson, said: ‘I would ask you not to impose custody which would not, in my submission, be appropriate due to the seriousness of the offence which is at the lower end of the scale given the absence of any injuries to the child and there was no actual harm caused.’

Sheriff Dunipace said: ‘It is clear that his short time on this earth was extremely troubled.

‘Any parent who is fortunate to have children must be aware of the great responsibilities as well as the joy that comes with parenthood and similarly any child is entitled to look to their parents for a high level of love, support and care and it is right that we place a high degree of responsibility on parents to ensure the needs of a child are met.

‘However, despite the high level of social work intervention, you both failed in your duty to your son and I have concluded that the matter which you were convicted involved a high level of culpability and involved a deliberate disregard of the welfare of your child whilst in a position of the greatest trust as parents.’

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