A DRUG dealing father has been jailed after his seven-month-old daughter died with tiny traces of cocaine and cannabis in her body.
Darryl Avery took the baby girl from the care of her mother after an argument even though the child was still breast feeding.
He failed to have the baby checked out after he crashed his car and then took her to a pub and a family barbecue at which drink and drugs were available.
He refused repeated requests by the worried mother to let her feed the baby and instead got two female relatives at the barbecue to feed her from their own breasts.
The baby was found lifeless and unable to breathe early on the morning after the party and all attempts to revive her failed. The mother was called but found her baby being treated unsuccessfully by paramedics.
A post mortem examination failed to find a definitive cause of death and there was no evidence that either Avery’s neglect or the tiny traces of drugs in her system contributed to her death.
This led to Avery being prosecuted for child cruelty rather than a more serious charge. A police raid on his home showed he had been dealing cannabis. A broken taser which was disguised to look like an iPhone was also found by police.
The mother’s victim impact statement said: ‘When I heard my child had been in an accident, I wanted her checked over but I found out he never sought medical help. He was not concerned about the welfare of the child. His only concern was to not get in trouble.
‘When I got the phone call on Sunday, it was the most devastating call any parent can receive. I was in panic and distressed and went to help. It was so difficult to see her being worked on by paramedics. It is something I can’t get out of my head.
‘My whole life is in turmoil. I was not allowed to see her for almost 24 hours before her death. I will never forgive Darryl for that. I still feel my baby would not have passed away if I had been there.
‘It was horrible not being able to breast feed my own child. When I heard that others had done it, I felt disgusted. I just want justice for my child. I want the court to know that what Darryl did was not acceptable.’
The baby was taken from her mother’s home in Newton Abbot at around noon on Saturday, July 6, 2019, and she never saw her alive again - she died early the next morning.
Avery, aged 29, of Fore Street, Bovey Tracey, admitted child cruelty, possession of cannabis with intent to supply, possession of a prohibited weapon and an unrelated charge of affray.
He was jailed for three years by Recorder Mr Malcolm Galloway at Exeter Crown Court who said the baby probably ingested the drugs when she was breast fed by Avery’s relatives at the barbecue.
He told Avery: ‘You deliberately kept the child from her mother from Saturday until Sunday morning, when she received the most devastating call any parent can receive and was told her daughter was not breathing.
‘I make clear that this tragic death cannot be linked to your actions. The cause of death is listed as ‘uncertain’, but you have kept her away from her mother. That is something that will haunt her for the rest of her life.
‘I find the exposure of the child to drugs to be the most serious factor in this case.’
Mr Lee Bremridge, prosecuting, said Avery had a volatile relationship with the baby's mother and they were living apart to the time of her death, but that he had gone to her house and taken the child after an argument.
He failed to stop after crashing on his way from the mother’s house to the White Hart pub and witnesses heard a baby screaming in his car as he drove off.
The baby was not properly secured inside the car but it was accepted that Avery believed that she was.
He then took the child to the pub and a family barbecue, where cocaine was being passed around. He refused numerous pleas from the baby’s mother to bring her home or let her come to feed her and instead got two relatives, who were also recent mothers, to breast feed the baby.
He left the party at 9.00 to 10.00 pm and took the child to his home, where she was found lifeless early the next morning. A post mortem found traces of cannabis and cocaine in the baby’s system which were at such low levels they could not have contributed to her death.
The police inquiry showed the drugs could not have got into the child’s system from the mother.
Mr Bremridge said Avery went on to have a relationship with a different woman who he threatened to slash with a Stanley knife after an argument on December 29 last year.
Mr William Parkhill, defending, said Avery believed the baby had been fastened securely and had no idea how she ingested the drugs. He is remorseful and has been making good progress since being remanded in custody after the affray.
The judge made restraining orders banning Avery from contacting the baby’s mother or the victim of the affray for eight years.