Drug-fuelled mother killed son by knocking TV on to head says QC

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A “drug-fuelled” woman killed her four-month-old son through gross negligence when she knocked a large television set on to his head as he lay on his mat below, a jury has heard.

Natalie McMillan, 25, was said to be in no fit state to look after her son, Kian, who died from “catastrophic” brain injuries a day later in hospital.

The television toppled off a cupboard as she attempted to move it to plug in a scart lead so she could watch a DVD at the family home in Burnley, Lancashire, last December.

Kian’s father, Edward Hanratty, 41, was also under the influence of drugs at the time after he passed out on the kitchen floor earlier, Preston Crown Court was told.

Suzanne Goddard QC, prosecuting, said: “The prosecution case is that Natalie McMillan was not in any fit state to look after a child. She had taken heroin and valium and an amount of alcohol.”

The prosecution also said that Hanratty too was in no
fit state to look after him and should have ensured someone else did. McMillan, of Clarendon Road, Leeds, denies manslaughter by gross negligence and child cruelty. Hanratty, of Dirkhill Road, Bradford, denies child cruelty.

McMillan rang 999 in the early hours of December 6 to say she had been “messing around with the telly” when it had fallen. She had noticed a lump on her son’s head and he was not feeding.

When paramedics arrived at the family home in Scarlett Street, the boy was unconscious and blood was coming from his nose, the jury was told.

Miss Goddard said several ambulance staff recalled both parents appeared to be under the influence of drink or drugs and were seen to stagger with their eyes closing.

A police officer followed the couple as they were taken to hospital by ambulance with their gravely ill child. She, too, thought they were intoxicated and said she had to tell them both “more than once” to come inside the hospital while they smoked cigarettes outside, said the prosecutor.

McMillan and Hanratty later agreed to switch off life support.

A police search found valium tablets in the baby’s cot, the jury heard. Syringes, thought to be used to inject heroin, were discovered in a kitchen cupboard.

The pair had lived in Halifax until 2009 but McMillan ended the relationship and moved to Burnley to be closer to her family because she said Hanratty was violent and controlling. But their relationship was rekindled.

Hanratty had previously had two children removed from his care with a different partner because of his drug problems.

It was McMillan’s position, said Miss Goddard, that she lied about the whole incident at Hanratty’s request but that defence did not “hold close scrutiny” and she was trying to shift the blame on to her co-defendant.

The trial continues.