Methadone killed girl, 2, court is told

Drug tragedy: Sophie Jones (below) and police outside her home in Jameson Street, Blackpool
Drug tragedy: Sophie Jones (below) and police outside her home in Jameson Street, Blackpool

A Blackpool toddler’s drug-using parents tried to cover up the fact she had died from drinking methadone, a court was told.

Sophie Jones’s mother and father are said to have used drugs for years, a jury at Preston Crown was told.

Drug tragedy: Sophie Jones

Drug tragedy: Sophie Jones

Clippings of two-year-old Sophie’s hair, taken at a post mortem examination, found it contained the drugs cocaine, methadone, heroin and diazepam.

Her mother Michelle King had been prescribed methadone and drinking the liquid had poisoned Sophie.

A jury was told King has admitted her daughter’s manslaughter.

The toddler’s father Barry Jones denies the same charge.

Jones, 41, also denies an alternative charge of causing or allowing the death of a child and child cruelty.

Sophie was pronounced dead at Blackpool Victoria Hospital in the early hours of March 5.

She had choked on the contents of her stomach as a result of drinking methadone.

At the opening of the trial, yesterday, the jury heard Jones and King had used heroin and cocaine for years and were habitually taking the drugs at the time of their daughter’s death.

King was prescribed methadone, which was a heroin replacement.

Jeremy Grout-Smith, prosecuting, said Sophie died from drinking methadone from a child’s cup which had a picture of cartoon characters Tom and Jerry on it.

He said: “Sophie died because of the carelessness and neglect of her parents. The defendant denies any criminal responsibility for her death.

“Michelle King has pleaded guilty to manslaughter, admitting being grossly, criminally negligent by placing methadone in the child’s cup and then failing to keep it safe. Whether that is what happened has not been determined.”

On the night of March 4 Jones made a 999 call, to say Sophie had stopped breathing.

Paramedics arrived at the address in Jameson Street, Blackpool, to find Sophie lying on the floor and her father trying to revive her following directions he was being given over the phone.

When police went to the home after midnight Jones said his mother and her partner had been to the house earlier that day with a bottle of cider which Sophie may have drunk from.

In the back yard of the address police found about a quarter of a pint of methadone under a green cover and in a child’s drinking cup.

The amount found was 146 millilitres. Just five millilitres was sufficient to harm a child, said Mr Grout-Smith.

The court heard King was a registered heroin user and prescribed methadone as part of a drug treatment programme.

There should not have been that amount of methadone in the house or anything like it, the prosecution say.

The amount would have been expected to be low because King would have picked up more on prescription the next day.

Mr Grout-Smith told the jury: “You will hear evidence that instead of taking methadone herself, Michelle King was keeping it and selling it to other drug users.

“And she was using the money she made to buy heroin and cocaine for herself and for Barry Jones.”

The prosecution said King often stored methadone in a child’s drinking cup and sometimes in a Fruit Shoot (juice) bottle.

Traces of cocaine were found in bins and officers also found traces of heroin.

Two dummies found in the house had cocaine powder on the teet.

On the day Sophie died a woman is said to have bought methadone from Michelle King, paying £10 for it.

Sophie twice fell over during a visit by her grandmother, the court heard.

The prosecution also claim there had been a joint attempt by both Jones and King at a “clean up operation” to clear the house of incriminating evidence.

During police questioning, Jones said there was “no chance” Sophie had drunk methadone from a beaker.

When told two days later she had died from methadone poisoning he expressed surprise, the court heard.