Toddler death: couple on trial

A two-year-old boy died when he drank methadone from a child’s beaker, a court has been told.

Riley Pettipierre, aged two, died in hospital after drinking the heroin substitute which had been in a drinking cup left on a set of bedroom drawers at his home in Kilbourne Road, Belper, last year.

His parents Sally Dent and Shaun Binfield have now gone on trial at Nottingham Crown Court charged with their son’s manslaughter. They are also charged with cruelty to a person under the age of 16 as it is alleged they failed to keep methadone and other drugs out of the reach of the child.

They both deny all charges.

Opening her prosecution case, Yvonne Coen QC told a jury at Nottingham Crown Court that Dent was struggling to get over a heroin habit.

A beaker with methadone was on a set of drawers in her bedroom where Riley also slept, so it would be ‘within easy reach’, Ms Coen alleged.

“It was an obviously dangerous place to leave a child’s beaker containing a dangerous drug,” she said.

“He (Riley) had been exposed to other drugs in the months before he died – that points to serious negligence.”

Ms Coen said the drug had ended up in the beaker because Dent had been watering down methadone to sell on and had decanted some into the cup. She awoke to find Riley unconscious in bed next to her and called 999 on March 13 last year.

The couple originally told officers that Riley must have climbed on top of a wardrobe in the bedroom where the methadone was usually stored in a locked wooden box.

It is alleged Binfield let Riley go back into the bedroom unsupervised, knowing methadone was within his reach and knowing Dent was sleeping off drugs she had taken the night before.

The trial continues.