One-year-old boy tragically found dead with cocaine and methadone in his system

A one-year-old boy tragically died after swallowing methadone and being exposed to cocaine and heroin.

Jackson Curtis Howell lost his life on April 29, 2017, after ingesting the heroin-substitute, an inquest into his death revealed.

Jackson, from Middlesbrough, was rushed to James Cook University Hospital after being found unresponsive at his family home in Saltersgill.

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Despite more than an hour of life-saving efforts, the 12-month-old passed tot passed away less than six hours later.

Jackson's parents Anne-Marie Howell and Andrew Jon Howell were prosecuted over his death but cleared of all charges.

Prosecutors dropped a manslaughter case against the pair in December 2018 after it was ruled his death could equally have been caused by naturally occurring bronchopneumonia as from potentially lethal quantities of methadone.

A review into his death found how Jackson was likely to have suffered significant harm from neglect even if he hadn't ingested the fatal drugs.

An inquest was opened and concluded at Teesside Coroner's Court yesterday (Thurs) where the circumstances behind Jackson's death were revealed.

The "active and playful" toddler was at home with his dad where the pair had watched a movie before he fell asleep on the sofa.

However, when mum Anne-Marie returned home, she found him grey and unresponsive while Andrew sat in front of him on the sofa eating cornflakes.

A post-mortem report said the level of methadone in Jackson's system was potentially fatal, however, there was also low levels of cocaine and morphine in his system. There was also caffeine and nicotine detected.

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It was determined that Jackson died as a result of bronchopneumonia and the effects of methadone.

Speaking at the inquest, Forensic scientist Mark Tyler stated that it is "most likely that methadone was ingested that day".

He said that Jackson's levels may have been due to "background ingestion of cocaine".

The inquest heard how Jackson was an "active and playful child" who was his "usual self" on the day of his death.

He lived at home with both parents and three older siblings who were all under the age of
16.

Detective Sergeant Butcher at Cleveland Police, who led the investigation into Jackson's death, attended the inquest and gave evidence. He told how the parents were arrested following the toxicological results.

The pair were interviewed and bailed. The inquest also heard how the pair had used heroin and cocaine and were on a methadone programme.

Anne-Marie,45, confirmed that at the time of Jackson's death she was consuming methadone twice per day or "just when she needed it".

She stated that she "couldn't remember" if she had consumed methadone on the day of Jackson's death or if methadone was consumed anywhere else in the house.

Andrew Howell was questioned about his police statement and stated: "I don't know how he got methadone."

Coroner Clare Bailey asked Mr Howell if he had put methadone in Jackson's bottle to "help him sleep". He replied: "No, not at all. Why would I do that. He didn't cry much, he was a pleasant baby."

Coroner Bailey stated that neither parent "gave a clear picture of events" in the time leading up to Jackson's death.

She recorded a narrative conclusion stating that Jackson was discovered unresponsive
at home on the afternoon of April 29, 2017.

A 21-page serious case review into how authorities dealt with the family was published by South Tees Safeguarding Children Partnership following the death.

It found: "Even without (the child) ingesting the drugs which led to his death, he was likely to be suffering significant harm due to neglect, along with his siblings who lived with him."

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