Inquest of infant puts end to ‘gossip’

Danielle Slater with baby Jackson James
Danielle Slater with baby Jackson James

A young mother had no involvement in the tragic death of her baby amid “malicious rumours” to the contrary, a coroner has ruled.

At the inquest of Jackson James Slater, from Scholes, Bolton Coroner’s Court heard how the otherwise “healthy, happy baby” died unexpectedly on Sunday October 2, 2016.

Whatever rumours have been passing around the community, they are nothing better than malicious gossip and rumour. I can exclude these because there is simply no evidence

Det Insp Matthew Moore

Danielle Slater, Jackson’s mum, told Coroner Mr Walsh at the hearing yesterday morning that she had been the victim of rumours that she “smothercated” the baby resulting in his death at four months old.

But evidence given by Det Insp Matthew Moore of Wigan Police and Dr Naomi Carter, who performed Jackson’s post-mortem, was enough for Mr Walsh to conclude that the baby died from “an unidentifiable natural cause of death”.

He said: “Whatever rumours have been passing around the community, they are nothing better than malicious gossip and rumour. I can exclude these because there is simply no evidence.

“I believe that is it one of these enormous tragedies for any family to suffer. I exclude any third party involvement or neglect or lack of care.”

The inquest heard how health visitors visited the residence just two days before Jackson’s death and had raised no cause for concern, saying that Danielle’s parenting capacity was “calm and capable and meeting the baby’s needs”.

Danielle, who was receiving Universal Partnership Plus care from health visitors due to past problems undisclosed in the court, had put Jackson to bed in his Moses basket at around 5.30am after his feed, on the Sunday morning before going to sleep herself at around 6.30am.

After waking up at around 1.25pm on October 2, she discovered that Jackson was “unresponsive” and called paramedics immediately.

Speaking about Jackson, Danielle said: “He was a happy, smiley baby. He smiled constantly. He was a pleasure. The last thing he did before he closed his eyes was give me a big smile.”

Jackson had been taken to the GP on September 22 with a rash on his legs, but Dr Yvette Lewis, GP at Sullivan Way Surgery in Scholes, said that there was “nothing remarkable” and that Jackson was “thriving”.

Reports written by Danielle’s health visitor at the time said Jackson was “meeting expected milestones despite challenges faced”.

During the post-mortem, Dr Carter found evidence of a rhinovirus in Jackson’s throat, but said that this was of “no significance” and that the virus had not progressed to anything more serious such as pneumonia.

Danielle wept in court when Dr Carter explained that the autopsy did not reveal a concise cause of death.

But evidence from Det Insp Moore, who conducted the mandatory investigation into Jackson’s death, concluded that there was “no evidence whatsoever” to suggest that the death was due to anything other than natural causes.

Speaking to the family, Mr Walsh said: “I’m very, very sorry. It’s unimaginable to lose a baby and for there to be no rhyme or reason.

“I hope some of the main things you wanted to establish have been established.”