THE drug addicted daughter of a Bradford writer has been jailed after her two-year-old son died from swallowing a teaspoon of her methadone.
Samaya Rafiq, the daughter of Andrea Dunbar who wrote cult comedy Rita, Sue and Bob Too, was locked up for three years and nine months after a court heard how she allowed son Harris Dunbar to play with bottles of the prescribed heroin substitute.
The 28-year-old, known as Lorraine Dunbar until she converted to Islam, also smoked crack cocaine and heroin around the infant and eyewitnesses reported him holding his arms out stretched when she took drugs, as if looking for a fix.
A judge was told how Rafiq’s life unravelled after the death of her mother in 1990, when she was 11. She was taken into care and turned to drugs.
Bradford Crown Court heard yesterday that Harris lived with his mother at a hostel in Bradford and she took drugs in his presence. Prosecutor Andrew Robertson QC said: “An eyewitness confirmed that the defendant allowed the child to play with her methadone bottles.
“When a friend challenged her she responded with words to the effect that there was no harm in it. Hair tests confirmed in the last four months of his life, Harris had actually ingested methadone.
“There is a suggestion he had developed a craving for it. One witness described him screaming and holding his arms out as his mother took her dose as if he wanted some.”
In July 2006, a hostel worker came to her room to find Rafiq calling the emergency services as Harris lay on the bed.
He was pronounced dead an hour later. Mr Robertson said a post-mortem revealed he had consumed the equivalent of a 5ml teaspoon of methadone.
He said the boy had also been exposed to passive smoking of heroin and crack cocaine adding: “The amount of drugs detected from his hair samples would have been sufficiently high to have had an effect on him. DNA from the toddler was found on three of Rafiq’s six methadone bottles and in addition to the other drugs, she was also found to have let him swallow an anti-depressant she had been prescribed.
Mukhtar Hussain QC, mitigating, said: “She began taking drugs when she herself was a child. She had lost her mother when she was just 11.”
Rafiq pleaded guilty to manslaughter by gross negligence and four counts of cruelty relating to allowing him to ingest the drugs and medication.
Sentencing, Recorder Judge Stephen Gullick said: “If this case demonstrates nothing else it vividly shows the consequences to the health of young children who may be present when dangerous drugs are being taken by adults who are supposedly responsible for them.”