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Mother whose baby drowned in bath while she was out buying crack is jailed

The Old Bailey heard the 11-month-old drowned after his bath seat submerged
The Old Bailey heard the 11-month-old drowned after his bath seat submerged

A drug-addict mother whose baby drowned in the bath while she was out buying crack cocaine just hours after being visited by social services has been jailed for six years, a court has heard.

Finola Cash, 32, was subject to a child protection plan by Harrow Social Services and visited by social workers on multiple occasions including the day 11-month-old Ricky drowned.

The baby was submerged when his bath seat fell in to the water while his mother was outside their hotel bedsit in Edgware, north London, meeting her dealer, the Old Bailey heard.

The baby died a month later in September 2014 in a children's hospice after suffering brain damage.

Doctors found he had crack cocaine in his blood as a result of either passive smoking or contamination from a surface or finger. He was also suffering from a severe nappy rash caused by neglect to change soiled nappies.

Cash pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was today sentenced to six years, of which Judge Charles Wide said she is expected to serve half on licence.

Cash, who is from the travelling community, was known to social services because of her history of drug abuse and domestic violence and had been moved in to the hotel so social services could closely supervise the family, the prosecution said.

Tests on her blood and hair revealed she had taken crack cocaine in the 12 hours before Ricky drowned and had been a user of heroin and methadone for the previous nine months.

Judge Charles Wide said: "You will have to live with the fact that you're responsible for this little baby's death for the rest of your life I have no doubt that will be a burden to you but responsible for Ricky's death you are.

"You were grossly negligent. This was not the result of momentary inattention, this was the culmination of the continual failure to care for him.

"You repeatedly put your own preoccupations above the interests of your child. You were more concerned with receiving your consignment of drugs than looking after your child. That afternoon you were under the influence of drugs."

Cash began heavily sobbing as she listened to the judge, who stopped during the sentencing to repeat: "An 11-month-old baby, 11 months old."

Sarah Plaschkes QC, prosecuting, said Harrow Social Services became "increasingly concerned" about Cash who had already been evicted from two other hotels for disruptive behaviour before she arrived at the Madonna Halley Hotel in August last year.

She said social workers made repeated attempts to engage with Cash who refused to co-operate.

Social workers suspected Cash may have been taking drugs following reports from neighbours but Cash failed to arrive for drug testing.

On the morning of August 23 a social worker made an unannounced visit to Cash and noted that she had no concerns.

Hours later Cash left Ricky alone in the bath, returning to discover his lifeless body after collecting drugs.