Wigan mum of baby girl who died in a car seat claims it was a "terrible mistake"
A Wigan mum whose baby girl died after being left in a car seat for almost 15 hours has said she was 'hounded' out of the town.
Margaret Atherton, originally from Platt Bridge, and her partner, convicted criminal Steven Burke, 29, have split up since the death of Savannah - their third child to die in the space of two years.
The 36-year-old mum-of-eight was the subject of a 44-page report published by Wigan Safeguarding Children Board after her 10-week-old baby, formerly known as “Baby M”, died on a family holiday in Blackpool.
The report detailed how Savannah was left strapped into a car seat in the family’s hotel room at The Wellington Hotel in Blackpool, while Atherton and Burke went drinking in the hotel bar downstairs, leaving the children for six hours and checking on them only occasionally.
Savannah, who was fed only three times in 24 hours, was found unresponsive in the car seat at around 10am the following morning.
The report into her death explained that the infant had been fed at 2.30am, around an hour after her parents returned from their boozy night.
In a recent interview with “The Sun Online”, Atherton - who is believed to be living in Blackburn following the incident - said that the couple had made a “terrible mistake”.
“It was one mistake - a terrible mistake,” she said when she was approached outside her home.
"We kept going and checking on them and checking they were okay.
“With the first set of twins, one died in hospital and they put it down to a few things due to prematurity and stuff like that.
“And then things happened with Savannah. Yeah. we shouldn’t have left her in a car seat.
“But we were away for a few days, we had this massive pram and we were at the top of this hotel.
“And you’ve seen [the size of] me. Taking the pram up loads of stairs to the top floor, you know what I mean…
"It's just a terrible mistake."
Burke, an unemployed convict, who served a 30-month stint in prison for a robbery just before the couple met, has since had another child with his now ex-partner. Savannah, who is one of Atherton’s eight children, was considered to be “high risk” after needing to be resuscitated at birth and weighing just 920g.
The girl was one of three of the couple’s children to die in the space of two years after two sets of twins were born “extremely prematurely” just 11 months apart. At the time of Savannah’s death, Burke was described as “unsupportive” and it was reported that he would often go off “for days at a time on drinking binges”.
Reviewers highlighted the need for various services to pay more attention to the “hidden male” in relationships when it is looking to safeguard children. The holiday, which took place just weeks after the family’s fourth referral to social services, included three children - all primary-school age and younger, a 13-month-old child and the 10-week-old twins.