Judge discharges tragic tot death jury

Tragic: Tot Sophie Jones
Tragic: Tot Sophie Jones

The jury in the trial of a Blackpool man accused of the manslaughter of his two-year-old daughter has been discharged.

Barry Jones denied the charge but yesterday, on the third day of his trial at Preston Crown Court, the judge discharged the jury.

Mrs Justice Carr said the decision was made due to “entirely unforeseen events”.

She then told the panel: “It has nothing to do with the defendant or anything to do with the case at all.”

She formally discharged the seven men and five women from bringing a verdict.

The trial had heard that Sophie Jones died from the effects of methadone poisoning. She had been rushed to hospital in March this year, from her home on Jameson Street, Blackpool.

Her 41-year-old father also denied an alternative charge of causing or allowing the death of a child and child cruelty.

A fresh trial is listed to begin on Tuesday.

The prosecution had claimed that Sophie died as result of her parents’ carelessness.

The jury were told that her mother, Michelle King, has admitted manslaughter.

Jeremy Grout-Smith, prosecuting, said the toddler died from inhaling her own vomit after drinking the heroin substitute which had been left in a child’s drinking cup.

Her mother was on a methadone programme at the time.

A recording of a 999 call made by Barry Jones on the night of March 4 had been played to the jury in which he asked for an ambulance and told the operator: “I have a two year old daughter. I don’t think she’s breathing.”

Sophie was pronounced dead at Blackpool Victoria Hospital in the early hours of the following morning.

The court also heard that when told she had died from methadone poisoning, Barry Jones expressed surprise, telling police he did not use methadone himself and did not know how she had managed to ingest some.