Riley Pettipierre methadone death: Parents jailed

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Media captionSally Dent and Shaun Binfield were sentenced at Nottingham Crown Court

The parents of a toddler who died after drinking methadone have been jailed for his manslaughter.

Two-year-old Riley Pettipierre died in March 2012 after drinking his mother's prescription drug, which had been poured into a child's drinking beaker.

Sally Dent, 33 was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years and Shaun Binfield, 45 received four years. Both are from Belper, Derbyshire.

Dent was also found guilty of one charge of child cruelty.

She was handed a three-year sentence to run concurrently for failing to keep methadone out of the reach of her child.

During the trial in January, a jury was told the cup of methadone was left on some bedroom drawers in "easy reach" of Dent.

The court heard she had a history of drug use going back many years, and was prescribed the drug to try to rid her of the habit.

'Reckless disregard'

When paramedics arrived at the family home on 13 March, they found Riley lifeless. His heart had stopped beating and his lips were blue, the court heard.

Image caption Sally Dent had a history of drug use, the court heard

He was taken to hospital but pronounced dead shortly after arriving.

A post-mortem examination showed the toddler had a fatal amount of methadone in his blood, stomach and urine.

He is believed to have consumed between 10 and 20ml of the drug.

Judge John Milmo QC said on Tuesday that Binfield's culpability in Riley's manslaughter was less than his partner's, but he condemned both for failing to move the cup out of the toddler's reach.

"You both knew the beaker was in a place to which he had access. Ms Dent showed a reckless disregard for the child's safety by asking Shaun Binfield to move it", he said.

"But you Mr Binfield didn't bother to check the next morning whether there was methadone still in the cup at the side of the bed.

"You had the last opportunity to protect your son and you failed in that duty. There was no excuse for leaving it where Riley could get to it."

'Somewhere safe'

A jury at Nottingham Crown Court took just four hours to convict the pair of manslaughter last month following a two-week trial.

During her defence, Dent described how she came to put the methadone in the child's beaker.

She said: "I was just thinking of somewhere safe to put it - because the lid was so tight I knew I wouldn't spill it."

The judge said he had taken into consideration that the family had ensured the physical safety of their child by installing safety gates around their home and witnesses had spoken of a well-cared for and clean home.

He said: "You will both have his death on your consciences for the rest of your lives."

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