A toddler died from a methadone overdose after social workers failed to take him into care, a damning report has revealed.
Jayden Lee Green, who was just a month short of his second birthday, was found dead in his parents’ bed after overdosing on the heroin substitute in August last year.
He lived with his crack cocaine and heroin-addicted parents Jamie Green and Sonia Britton in a filthy flat in the St Georges area of Bristol.
A serious case review, commissioned by Bristol Safeguarding Children Board, revealed yesterday there was a lack of co-operation from his parents with all involved in dealing with them, including drug agencies, midwifery, housing, health visitors, and social workers.
But it was also critical of social workers and those authorities who failed to challenge the parents and failed to consider the possibility of him being given methadone, despite indication of other abuse and evidence that addicts are known to give drugs or alcohol to their children.
The boy had suffered a number of injuries, for which his parents had given the same explanation, which should have rung alarm bells.
There had been concerns Britton was regularly injecting heroin while also taking methadone during the pregnancy.
Following his birth he became subject to a child protection plan but that was discontinued. A second child protection plan began but moves to take Jayden Lee into care were never initiated, the review said.
During this time Green and Britton continued to use heroin and methadone and were falsifying regular urine tests. They later admitted they “knew the tricks to get around screening”.
The report stated: “The extent of the parents’ lack of engagement, avoidance and dishonesty grew over time and although this was recognised by practitioners there was insufficient challenge by professional and no sustained, planned approach to protecting the child.
“The only way that Child K’s death would definitely have been prevented was if he had been placed away from his parents. The opportunity to do this was lost due to the failure to follow through on the initiation of care proceedings. However, a better-planned and authoritative approach to the family may also have prevented his death.”
The inquiry revealed Jayden Lee had suffered two head injuries – one at seven weeks and one at 11 weeks – and his parents gave the same explanation.
He had also sustained injuries to his face at 21 and 23 months old and again the same explanations were given.
Britton, 35, and Green, 33, were accused of killing their son by giving him the drug they were both prescribed by doctors.
After a three-week trial at Bristol Crown Court, Green was convicted of manslaughter and causing cruelty to a child and jailed for nine years.
The jury cleared Britton of manslaughter but convicted her of child cruelty and causing or allowing the death of a child. She was jailed for four years.
The trial heard there were bags of rubbish lying around their one-bedroom ground floor rented flat, as well as drug paraphernalia in cupboards and crack pipes under the sink. A rolled up cigarette was found in a cot and dirty potties.
Both his parents were prescribed methadone and tests showed the fatal dose administered to Jayden Lee was not the first time he had been given the drug.
The serious case review said there were a number of “missed opportunities” to “fully understand the circumstances” of his home environment.
It added: “Although the death of Child K could not have been predicted there were indicators that the long-term outcomes for Child K may have been negatively impacted by his parents’ lifestyle.”
During a press conference in Bristol, Professor Ray Jones, chairman of Bristol Safeguarding Children Board, said it accepted the board’s recommendations.
He added the authority had also contacted the Government calling for the children of addicts to be tested for methadone.