Toddler in heroin overdose case 'might have been saved'
Published 21/12/2013 | 02:30
The death of a toddler who took a fatal heroin overdose in the house where he lived with his drug-addicted parents in Wolverhampton might have been avoided if health and care workers had been more assertive, a report has said.
A serious case review published yesterday into the death of 23-month-old Daniel Jones on May 29, 2012, concluded those tasked with looking out for his wellbeing failed to properly assess the risk of harm presented to him by his mother and father's habitual drug use.
If care workers, doctors and health professionals "had been more professionally curious, had more respectful uncertainty and been more assertive in their approach to the family, Daniel's death may have been avoidable", it concluded.
The report said there had been "a number of missed opportunities" to intervene in the little boy's care by the different UK agencies involved, but also acknowledged there had been "examples of good inter-agency working".
However, the report's authors also said that despite the parents' long-standing drug addiction, none of the care workers involved in the case foresaw the risk that Daniel might be exposed to heroin or other substances.
In the event, despite being an apparently happy and healthy young boy, he ingested a tiny but lethal amount of the hard drug in the home.
A post-mortem test on the toddler's hair fibres discovered the presence of heroin in his system, but also trace amounts of amphetamines, cocaine and cannabis.
Earlier this year, Daniel's father Simon Jones (30) was jailed for six years after admitting the boy's manslaughter, while his mother Emma Bradburn (34) received four years after pleading guilty to allowing the toddler's death at their home in Wolverhampton.
Jones fully accepted culpability for his son's death, accepting he had been taking heroin immediately around the time Daniel fell ill -- while Bradburn, tested following her arrest, was found to be clear of the drug.
At their sentencing hearing in July this year, Mrs Justice Thirlwall told the couple it was beyond doubt they had loved their little boy but "you failed woefully to protect him from the very obvious dangers you exposed him to".