Baby who died after falling out of bed had traces of drugs in her hair

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A baby who fell out of her mother’s bed and died was found to have traces of cocaine, ecstasy and cannabis in her hair, an inquest has heard.

Le’veah Herbert was just eight months old when Shannon Whittaker put her into her bed at 4am after a night of drinking wine and brandy and smoking weed with friends.

When she woke up at 1pm the next day she found Le’veah on the floor under a black bin bag stuffed with laundry at their home in Gorton, Manchester.

She was declared dead at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital but mystery surrounds her cause of death.

The drugs in her hair are consistent with her being ‘exposed’ or ‘ingesting’ drugs.

Both Miss Whittaker and Le’veah’s father Linton Herbert were questioned about the tragedy but no action was taken against them.

Miss Whittaker broke down as she told the inquest: ‘I had a social worker and a Barnardos worker, and Le’veah had her own social worker from before she was born. She had fallen off the bed one or two times before but I had always been awake when that happened.

‘She had never hurt herself from doing it. She wasn’t crawling she was just rolling around.’

She added: ‘On the 5th it was a sunny day and my neighbours came over and we were just chilling together. At some point we had a joint and some wine. We were just chilling and then at around 9 or 10pm Linton put Le’veah to bed in her bed and went out.

‘I stayed up just chatting and stuff and then at 3 or 4am the neighbours went home. We drank brandy and wine and yes I did smoke some cannabis but that was downstairs.

‘Then I went upstairs and took Le’veah out of her bed and into mine. I fed her some tuna and pasta out of a baby jar and I was checking on her all night. When I woke up at 1pm I realised that Le’veah wasn’t in the bed and I just panicked straight away.

‘She was on the floor by the side of the bed where I had put some washing. She was under the bag of clothes.’

Mr Herbert said: ‘I did stay in the house quite a lot of the time. Le’veah did fall out of the bed once or twice that I saw.

‘On the day she died I was at the house in the day and was just doing what we usually do and then about 9pm Shannon’s two friends came over. At 10 pm I left to go out to a party. I stayed at my mum’s house because the party was close to her house.

‘I got a call in the morning telling me what happened. Shannon seemed fine, she was with her friends. I think they had drunk two bottles of wine or something and there was brandy.’

When asked how his daughter came into contact with drugs, Mr Herbert added: ‘I don’t know really, maybe it was on something she had touched that the drugs had been on that she got hold of.

‘I don’t know that’s the only way I can explain it. Possibly from the surfaces. We didn’t smoke cannabis in the house. I didn’t ever smoke cannabis in front of her and I didn’t take cocaine in front of her either. ‘

Pathologist Dr Naomi Carter said that the drugs were not found in her body and ‘it probably was not affecting the cause of death’.

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