Barnsley’s wife faces criminal charges after inquest learns her daughter died using cocaine
A mother who gave no less than nine house parties days after her daughter died sleeping in the same bed as her while using cocaine, a manslaughter charge could be filed, a court inquiry heard.
Keira-Mae Jones was born in the early hours of May 14, 2020 at Barnsley Hospital after being induced, the Sheffield Coroners Court was told yesterday.
Her mother Amy Jones, 32, was taking opioid-based painkillers while expecting Keira-Mae, so the child had to be hospitalized for up to five days to see if she was experiencing any withdrawal symptoms.
The child was only two days old when she suffered catastrophic brain damage and was found face down on her mother’s bed in the hospital’s neonatology department.
Doctors decided to cut her life support off at the Jessop Wing at Sheffield Teaching Hospital – where she had been transferred – 16 weeks later after attempts to resuscitate her failed.
Keira-May would be subject to a provisional care order, during which a child is removed from their parents’ care and taken into care.
Amy Jones, of Barnsley, South Yorkshire, was arrested on suspicion of ‘criminal overlay’ for putting the girl to bed while under the influence of drugs at the time.
She had denied taking drugs hours before her daughter died, but said someone taking cocaine could care for a baby because it “makes you more attentive.”
Keira-Mae’s father and Amy’s husband Alex Jones, 38, also from Barnsley, were arrested on suspicion of disrupting justice, but the pair were later both released without further action.
A neighbor claimed she saw Amy throw as many as nine house parties and drink with friends in the days after the child’s death, and during the height of the pandemic. Yorkshire Live reports.
Senior coroner David Urpeth ruled yesterday that the little girl had died as a result of ‘the unlawful act of the mother’, adding that he was ‘surprised’ that no charges had been brought against her and that he would appeal to the CPS to ‘re-assess’. their decision.
Amy Jones, of Barnsley, South Yorkshire, was arrested on suspicion of ‘criminal overlay’ for putting the girl to bed while under the influence of drugs at the time. She had denied taking drugs hours before her daughter died, but said someone taking cocaine could care for a baby because it ‘makes you more alert’
Mr Urpeth said: ‘I believe that Keira-Mae Jones’ death was due to the unlawful act of the mother.
“I am convinced that determining the cause of death in this case on the basis of probability is unlawful killing.
“I am surprised that the CPS has not cleared any charges in this tragic case. I would request that this case be referred back to the CPS to reassess their decision.”
The inquest heard from the mother’s neighbor, who said she approached Amy in the days after Keira-May was put on a ventilator.
The neighbor told the court she was “hurt” when Amy told her, “I choked her, I did it.”
The court was told that Amy and Alex often hosted house parties, which were reported to the police in the days following Keira-Mae’s death.
The neighbor said, “I think the actions after Keira’s death say it all. These were house parties, Mrs. Jones had friends around.’
She added: ‘This was also during a pandemic, so it was illegal. It’s just not what you expect.’
During the inquest, Jones was asked why blood samples taken from her less than two hours after the incident provided evidence of cocaine use.
This followed a testimony from forensic toxicologist Dr. Diane Garside who confirmed that the drugs were most likely used on the day of the incident.
Mr Urpeth specifically asked Jones if she had used cocaine and if her partner had given her urine to avoid a positive drug test, to which she replied ‘no’.
But when he asked her if anyone could care for a child while he was on cocaine, Jones said, “Yeah. Cocaine makes you more alert.’
She later added, “I’m not saying it’s right, [but] Yes, that’s possible.’
A senior obstetrician who cared for Amy Jones, Joanne Posket, told the court that Amy seemed positive and talkative the day after Keira-Mae’s birth.
However, she said she was negative and irritable on the day of the incident after discussing with her partner that her 16 dogs might be taken from her.
Keira-Mae Jones was born at Barnsley Hospital in the early hours of 14 May 2020 after being induced but would be subject to a preliminary care order, removing a child from their parents’ care and raising it, Sheffield Coroners Court told yesterday
This change in behavior was described as ‘irregular’ in several witness statements from staff in the department.
In his finding, Mr Urpeth said he believed this mood swing was caused by substance abuse, but Jones denied this.
On May 16, 2020 around 6pm, Amy claims she put Keira-Mae to bed to feed her.
She said her “next memory” woke up at 8:00 pm to find Keira-Mae face down on the bed.
Doctors rushed to save Keira-Mae’s life and were initially able to resuscitate her.
Meanwhile, Amy Jones had reportedly collected her belongings in a tote bag and written a note apologizing to Keira-Mae that she was “better off without me.”
She then met Alex in the hospital parking lot, who convinced her to go back inside.
By this time, Keira-Mae was being prepared for a transfer to another ward, where she would spend the rest of her short life on ventilator with “catastrophic” brain damage.
A blood sample taken from Amy less than two hours after the incident showed cocaine byproducts. A urine sample was also taken.
South Yorkshire Police Inspector Julie Thorpe said the decision to arrest Amy and Alex Jones came eight hours after the incident when officers viewed bodycam footage of her behaviour.
DS Thorpe said: ‘My first thought when I saw the footage was that this woman is clearly under the influence of substances and we need to locate and arrest her.’
Pictured: Police in Athersley South, Barnsley, South Yorkshire, on September 16, 2020 in connection with the death of baby Keira-Mae Jones
Alex was also arrested on May 16, 2020 on suspicion of disrupting justice and during the initial police investigation, a urine sample jar from the hospital was found in his car.
The coroner asked DS Thorpe why Alex claimed to have the urine jar.
DS Thorpe replied: ‘He claimed he wanted it because he wanted to take it for screening at a sexual health clinic.’
The coroner added, “What did you think of that as an explanation?”
DS Thorpe said, ‘Nonsense.’
In subsequent police interrogations, Amy denied using cocaine in the hospital. She thought she had fallen asleep and crushed her baby and that she hadn’t taken drugs.
The couple were released on bail on May 20, 2020 and no action was taken outside of further interviews.
In his statement, Mr Urpeth said: ‘It is the finding of the experienced officer Thorpe that the mother was ‘clearly intoxicated’.
“In fact, I think there were material, dramatic changes in her behavior on May 16 and these indicate drunkenness.
“Therefore, taking both into account, I come to the conclusion that the most likely time the cocaine was ingested was in the hospital on May 16.
“On balance, I probably feel that Amy was not fit to care for a baby because of her drug intoxication.
“The mother’s wrongful act led directly to Keira’s death.
“That’s someone who could and should have protected and cared for Keira-Mae. It’s a tragedy she didn’t.
“Therefore I must come to a conclusion, and I am convinced that the correct conclusion in this case is unlawful killing.”
Amy, who was on hand to testify, left before the verdict was complete.