The parents of a toddler who died after drinking methadone, which had been left in a child’s beaker, clasped each other’s hands for support as they were convicted of his manslaughter by a jury.
Shaun Binfield and Sally Dent had denied killing Riley Pettipierre, two, who was found lifeless in the couple’s bedroom at their Kilbourne Road flat in Belper on March 13 last year. But were convicted after a 10-day trial.
However, police have now revealed that the death was not the first time that the authorities had been alerted to concerns about the couple.
Officers had started an investigation after being contacted by neighbours worried about drug activities at the pair’s home – 11 days before Riley’s death.
During the trial at Nottingham Crown Court, consultant forensic toxicologist Julie Evans told Nottingham Crown Court that quantities of heroin, methadone and cocaine were found in a hair sample taken from Riley. Syringes were found under the sink and were later tested and found to contain heroin.
It was also claimed that cannabis was found at the top of the kitchen cupboard, as well as in an oven glove hanging on a wall unit and in the bottom of a glass vase containing artificial flowers.
Dent, 33, told the jury she had been addicted to heroin since she was 16 and she was on a methadone programme.
After their arrest, Dent was found to have methadone, cocaine and heroin in her system while Binfield, 45, had cannabis in his body, the court was told.
Now, a report on Riley’s death is being prepared by Derbyshire’s Safeguarding Children’s Board, to see whether the toddler’s death could have been predicted or prevented. The results are expected to be published later this month.
It will include a detailed examination of the involvement of and actions taken by all the agencies who worked with the family.
It is likely to recommend ways in which the agencies can improve the way they work together.
The couple will be sentenced in court next month.