Posted For: Willie Wonka
A cannabis-smoking mother who left her baby at home to die in 27C temperatures with a fractured skull as she went shopping has been jailed.
Stacey Davis, 35, left her one-year-old son Ethan Davis alone in his cot for two hours while she ran a number of errands and visited a park near her home in Melksham, Wiltshire, in June 2018.
Ethan was trapped in a warm room in which all windows were closed and no fans were in use as temperatures soared. He had also suffered a fractured skull, which his mother said was sustained following a fall, though a post-mortem was unable to ascertain a cause of death.
Davis, who regularly smoked cannabis around her son, then failed to check on him for at least half an hour after returning to the property. Instead, she began texting a friend, a court heard.
When she finally did go into Ethan’s room, she found him lifeless and unresponsive in his cot.
The infant was rushed to Royal United Hospital in Bath on June 27, 2018, but was pronounced dead a short time later.
Davis appeared at Salisbury Crown Court to be sentenced yesterday, having earlier pleaded guilty to an offence of child cruelty. She was jailed for two years.
Simon Jones, prosecuting, earlier told a court that a post-mortem examination revealed Ethan had suffered a significant head injury – a 15-centimetre fracture to his skull – but a cause of death remained unascertained.
In police interview, Davis told detectives that her son fell to the floor and hit his head – and despite the swelling, bruising and obvious distress, she failed to take him to hospital.
Mr Jones said: ‘Any reasonable parent would have noticed the distress and sought medical attention.’
Forensic investigator Nicola Anderson also identified that there were high levels of cannabis in Ethan’s hair.
She said this was consistent with Davis smoking the drug around Ethan regularly.
But Mark Ashley, representing Davis, argued that her case was a ‘classic example of post-natal depression’.
Ethan was born prematurely via a caesarean and immediately required colon surgery post-birth, resulting in a two-month stay in hospital.
Mr Ashley told the court that Davis had relationship problems and financial issues and was struggling to bond with Ethan.
She was visiting him in the hospital infrequently, blaming the inability to obtain lifts from family.
Mr Ashley added: ‘Not only suffering from that, she was coping with it in the wrong way – she was smoking cannabis.’
But Judge Richard Parkes, KC, then interjected, stating: ‘It was incredibly stupid, go outside and do it.’
Ethan was returned to her care when the injury was found not to exist and there was no evidence found of any wrongdoing.
He told the court that Davis had been working with Turning Point to cut out her cannabis use, but had smoked it that week due to her ‘stress levels being particularly high’.
Mr Ashley asked the judge to consider a suspended sentence, adding: ‘Everybody involved is trying to rebuild their lives, she is trying to rebuild her life.
‘The matter has been hanging over her head for years, she is extremely worried about going into custody.’
But Judge Parkes, KC, described Davis’s behaviour as ‘thoroughly selfish’ before sentencing her to two years’ imprisonment.
He told the defendant: ‘There is no evidence you or his father caused Ethan’s death, no suggestion you did so. The sad fact is that you fell very seriously short of the duty owed to Ethan as his mother.
‘He suffered a 15cm skull fracture one-to-three weeks before his death, likely to be from blunt impact of significant force.
‘You failed to seek medical attention for the injury to his head. Any normal parent would put the child’s health before anything. It is clear you abandoned him on two occasions, including the day of this death.
‘This is aggravated by the fact it happened twice. You left Ethan alone in his cot in a room with a closed window. You sat on a bench at one point, and you took [a child] to the park and went to a shop.
‘You had taken your car to the car wash on the way back. It is reasonably clear you weren’t in a hurry.
‘What is particularly appalling about this episode is that you spent half an hour on the phone, sending and receiving messages [when you arrived home], until you went to check on Ethan.
‘You had not seen him, checked on him, for nearly three hours.’
Following her sentencing, Detective Chief Inspector Phil Walker, from Wiltshire Police’s Major Crime Investigation Team, said: ‘I would like to offer my sincere and heartfelt condolences to the family of this young boy.
‘Davis’s actions on the day her son died fell well below the duty she owed to him as his mother – she should have loved him, cared for him and put his welfare first, as any loving, doting parent would.
‘It has been over four years since he died and I know that this has been an incredibly difficult time for everyone who knew and loved him.
‘The investigation team have worked tirelessly on what has been a challenging and extremely upsetting case and their hard work has ensured it has now been followed through to its conclusion.’